Friends of Obama witnessing history

Published 11:12 pm Saturday, January 17, 2009

Four women’s road trip north is more than a chance to enjoy themselves and see the countryside.

The group has set out to complete a mission, one that began more than two years ago.

Millie Lee Dulaney, the Rev. Debra Phillips, Ann C. King and Gail Ighofose also go by another name — Friends of Obama.

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King started the group in December 2006 to garner local support for President-elect Barack Obama, then an Illinois senator who had aspirations to ascend to the nation’s highest elected office.

Tuesday’s inauguration is a dream come true for all the women. Sadly, other people they knew who contributed to the Civil Rights Movement didn’t live to see this day.

“This inauguration is significant because history is being re-written,” Phillips said. “I’m excited because of all the struggles I saw when I was a little girl. I marched with Martin Luther King. My parents didn’t get to see this day, but we’re here and we want to be a part of history.”

The foursome is making the entire trip by car and gave an interview by cell phone Saturday while traveling through West Virginia.

Millie Lee Dulaney, the oldest of the group at 73, saw symbolism in several different things. For instance, they will spend the weekend with a white woman who worked for Obama’s campaign in West Virginia and voted for him. John McCain took 56 of the state’s vote during the Nov. 4, 2008, election.

“I’m like (Obama) — there are no red states, there are no blue states,” Dulaney said. “We are the United States of America. He is a uniter, not a divider. Our country is finally living up to its creed.”

Ighofose didn’t take the time to talk because she was driving this particular leg of the trip. But she leaned over and yelled, “I’m excited” while Phillips held the phone.

As a teenager, Ann C. King was part of the 1963 March on Washington, the site of the “I Have a Dream” speech. Although she shares high hopes for the new president, she prays the American people will exhibit patience.

Obama is stepping into office during a turbulent period in the country’s history, complete with a recession and a war.

“President Obama can’t wave a magic wand and solve all our problems,” King said. “It took time to get us into these problems, and it’s going to take time to get us out. We need patience and understanding. It’s not going to happen overnight.”