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Southside students celebrate Obama’s inauguration

Students at Southside High School clapped and shouted, “Obama” as a black man took the presidential oath of office for the first time in the nation’s history. For these students who grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement, today was more than a transition of power. It brought full-circle the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and so many others.

“Dr. King did say, ‘I have a dream,'” James Robbins said “This could’ve been his dream.”

Phenecia Nunn’s Algebra II class watched the inauguration on a projection screen. Students stole glances at the screen while scribbling away on loose-leaf paper and workbooks. An announcement came over the intercom instructing teachers to hold students in class until President Obama completed his speech.

Evelyn Brown said this inauguration shows that America is headed in the right direction. Even in her lifetime, some people never imagined seeing a black president.

“It shows that America is taking two steps forward and not going back to what it used to be,” Brown said.

Artasha Hobbs and Candice Watts were proud to see a black man reach the highest elected office in the United States. They kept their eyes glued to the screen.

“It inspires us to reach our goals,” Hobbs said.

“Because if he did it, we know we can do it,” Watts added.

Students peppered their optimism with a little realism as well. Robbins would like to see Obama remain grounded and levelheaded.

“I feel like he can do a lot for us as long as he keeps his head straight and follows what he believes in,” he said. “This man changed it for us.”

For some students, the moment was a little surreal.

“It’s overwhelming,” Jeriel Brown said. “America has finally come together.”

There is no doubt that Obama will turn the country around, starting with the economy, Brown said.

“It might not happen in one term, it might take two terms,” Brown said.

“But he’s gonna do it,” Windell Rand said.

As inauguration day approached, Nunn could see her students become more and more excited. She said her students understand today’s importance.

“They think it’s a big step in history,” Nunn said.

Nateisha Caver will tell her children about Jan. 20, 2009 one day. She will tell them the pride and joy she felt and how lucky she was to watch an historic event with her classmates.

“It’s the day things changed in America for a lot of people,” Caver said.