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View our full library of photos from local presidential inauguration events
in East County and East San Diego at eastcountymagazine.org/?q=414_inauguration_photo_library.

Watch our video of the inaugural community ball in City Heights at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U9e-XN7bXs.

Read our inauguration stories at eastcountymagazine.org/?q=403_inauguration,

By Miriam Raftery

Antoinette Curry and Dupreesha Jones have hope for their
(Leon Thompson)
Vets at Inauguration
Sunny Farrand, San Diego Heroes To Hometown, clasps
hands with
fellow onlooker as Obama is sworn in.
Vets at Inauguration
Crowd at Malcolm X shows emotion as Barack Obama is sworn in as America’s first African-American President.

January 21, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) — Cheers and tears of joy
were evident among hundreds of local residents gathered at the Malcolm X Library
in east San Diego yesterday to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama,
America’s first African-American President.

“I am happy because with Barack, I know we can be anything we want,” said
Antoinette Curry, a student who attended the inauguration viewing along with
other 7th and 8th grade students from teacher Haroon Abdul-Mubaarik’s classes
at Holly Drive Leadership Academy in San Diego.

Sunny Farrand of San Diego Heroes to Hometown, an organization that provides
outreach to wounded veterans, believes Obama’s victory will mean better care
for wounded military veterans who he says have not been receiving adequate
treatment for PTSD and physical wounds. “What a great day for America! Let
those racial barriers come down,” he said, adding that he thought the new president’s
speech was “excellent.”

U.S. Marine sergeant Shaka Greene, an Iraq War veteran, attended the ceremony
with his young son. “That was the most inspiring thing I’ve heard in
a long time. It touched a chord,” he said of the President’s inaugural
speech. “I liked the part where he spoke to our enemies and said we would
out last them, because it’s about the enduring American spirit, and he spoke
to my son. Maybe he can be president sometime,” he reflected. Greene
is now “very hopeful” that the war will end, but added, “It is incumbent on
our enemies to seek peace with us, as much as it is important for us to seek
peace with them.”

“I think it’s very inspiring that he spoke to our greatness , and faith
that we can achieve the greatness again,” said Dominic Gunder of Spring Valley. “He
spoke to our loss of confidence and the fact that we can regain that confidence
again in this country. Yes we can - and yes we did!”

Abdi Salam, a Somali immigrant and Muslim, was moved by the new President’s
words. “When he said we are of all faiths, that made me feel good. The
American power will not be used for someone’s gain. It will be used for good.
..My son and my daughter are born in an era when everything is equal.”

His sister, Hafsa Mohamed, believes the election of Obama, a “multi-cultural
president who is inclusive and represents different communities” opens a “whole
new chapter beginning in America.” She hopes America can now “reach
out to people in other countries.”

Pat Washington did precinct walking, fundraising and phone banking for the
Obama campaign. “It means so much, “ she said of his speech yesterday,
“because he set the tone for community service and community engagement
and community commitment to be participants in the work going forward. This
gathering,” she waved a hand toward the assembled multi-ethnic, multi-cultural
crowd, “This is America.” Speaking onstage moments later, she told the
audience, “People are coming together - this is beautiful! All of you made this
Alquirin Wright of La Mesa participated in a group of young people that organized
a voter registration drive. “We had the most successful effort in California,”
he said, noting that the group registered 7,310 people in the months before
the election, helping to turn the county registration to a Democratic majority.

Of Obama’s victory, he concluded, “This is the catharsis of history. The history
of our country has healed itself.” He foresees positive changes
in the future under Obama’s leadership. But he cautioned, “We understand
he can’t do it alone. It will take each and every one of us. We are mobilized
and energized to help him achieve this mission.”

Several other inaugural events took place in San Diego’s eastern region. At
the Hacienda Restaurant in El Cajon, the East County Democratic Club hosted
a breakfast for members and guests to watch the swearing-in ceremony. “About
50 people showed up and we all cheered while watching the momentous swearing
in and inauguration speech,” said Ray Lutz, immediate past president of the

At Centifoni’s Restaurant in La Mesa, progressives gathered for dinner,
sharing stories and watching highlights of inaugural events, including the
inaugural balls in Washington D.C. Over 85 people attended the event,
one of more than 3,000 inaugural celebrations hosted by MoveOn members nationwide.

“We are community organizers from the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s, then we heard
about this party through MoveOn,” said Joyce Nower, in attendance with her
husband, Leon Nower. “I started the first African-American Literature
course at SDSU.”

Party-goers received prizes for answering Obama trivia questions. Some
shared stories from the campaign trail. One member spoke about encountering
bigotry while campaigning for Obama in Nevada. “This was not easy,” he

At the City Heights Performing Arts Annex in east San Diego, a community ball
attracted celebrants who feasted on chili and vegan fare, listened to beat
poetry and watched a replay of the inaugural speech.

“We’re going to be part of the revolution, and we are going to dance,” declared
Anna Daniels, coordinator of the event. Dressed in glitzy gowns and vibrant
ethnic costumes, party-goers capped off their day with an evening of festive
revelry to commemorate the historic occasion.

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Obama for Change Service Project

Dear East County Magazine-

Thanks for including a brief story about the event planned by the Obama for Change Coalition at the Malcolm X Library on Tuesday, 1/20/09 in your wrapup on 1/25/09. However, your readers should know that the festivities there that day had an important connection with President-Elect Barack Obama's call for a Day of Service from people around the country.

Our Obama for Change Coalition began at Pat Washington's East County Home in the Rolando neighborhood on 12/14/09 and we selected as our service project "collecting in-kind goods needed by the children of the Monarch School for the Homeless" in San Diego. Many of us there, over the next few weeks got others involved, too, and we brought three truckloads of needed goods to the Malcolm X Library on 1/24/08 for eventual delivery to Monarch School, since the school has very little storage space. Marc Chery had been using his Librarian's Office to store some of it prior to that day.

Tara Barrows, Volunteer Coordinator from the Monarch School, received the goods from the Obama for Change Coalition, at the Malcolm X Library late in the day. Channel 10 was given a scoop on this and ran a story on the Monarch School on 1/19/08 on the 6:00 p.m. news, as I believe East County News did, too. The following day Channel 10 covered the events that lasted all day from the 9:00 a.m. presentation of Barack Obama's Inauguration as 44th President of the U.S. and continuously throughout the day, with a variety of ethnic food, music, speeches and entertainment, until 7:00 p.m. at night when we closed off in song together.

Marc Chery, the Malcolm X Librarian and Pat Washington, who was, also, the leader of our Obama for Change Coalition, lead the group that pllanned and executed that inaugural day program, but dozens of others were instrumental in the good work accomplished there, as well.

John P. Falchi
San Diego, CA 92107