Twin City residents excited about taking in inauguration
Winston-Salem will be well-represented at next week’s presidential inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
The second inauguration of President Barack Obama is set for Jan. 21, the same day as the national Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Several local groups are hosting bus trips to the nation’s capitol, affording Twin City residents with a unique opportunity to witness history.
City native Pierre Burton and his pastor, Rev. Paul Lowe, are chartering a 50-passenger bus to take locals to the event. Trip-goers are paying $90 for transportation to and from the event.
“(The goal is) to give people the opportunity to experience history. Some people have never been to D.C. at all,” said Burton, a member of Shiloh Baptist Church for the past 30 years.
Burton, a retired R.J. Reynolds employee, missed President Obama’s first inauguration because of illness. He thinks this may be his last chance to witness history.
“I don’t want to miss out on it this time around because this is probably the last time I’ll have the opportunity to see an African American president inaugurated,” said the grandfather of one.
School guidance counselor Norma Corley was on hand for the historic swearing in of President Obama in 2009.
“It was wonderful,” said Corley, who has served the local school system since 1998. “It was a lot of excitement in the air, a zillion people, and it just seemed like we were all on one accord, not only to be a part of his swearing in, but it was a unity among the people. It was like a family reunion, really.”
The city native is returning for Monday’s inauguration and is just as excited as last time.
“A lot of people who went on that original bus trip (with me in 2009) say they are not going again, because they’ve already experienced it. but I still think it’s a historical moment that he was re-elected,” commented the grandmother of seven. “I just want to be in the number… It’s a time in history that we should really honor and recognize. I just don’t know when it will happen again.”
Corley, who was an active volunteer in both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, praised him for the high moral standards and strong character she believes he has exhibited during his first term. She said she often uses him as an example for her students, holding him up as someone who takes the high road and doesn’t stoop to insults when he’s attacked. While some early supporters’ fervor for the president has waned, Corley said she supports the president now more than ever.
“I think if anything, it’s stronger now,” she declared. “I think he’s really defined what he stands for and what he’s about.”
Jason Pender is making the inauguration a family affair. He will make the trip with his fiance Kimberly Myers and the couple’s six-year-old daughter, Serenity. The Mineral Springs Middle School teacher is especially excited about Serenity being a part of the event.
“She’s able to live the history and be right in the midst of the movement,” said the 29-year-old. “It’s something that she can look back and say she lived it, she didn’t just read it in a book about it. I want her to realize that it could be her up there one day. I truly want her to realize that the sky truly is the limit.”
Corley and Pender had planned to travel on a bus sponsored by local non profit Living Is Finally Enjoyable, Inc. (LIFE), which Kimberly Hinton-Robinson founded the in 2005 to support battered women, but the group said it had failed to attract enough passengers to secure the bus it had initially hoped to charter.
Randon Pender, one of the organizers of the trip and Jason Pender’s mom, said she would find alternative transportation for those who had already signed up for LIFE trip.
“We’re not going with our original plan but we’re working on plan B. I’ve got plans C and D too. I’m never outdone,” Pender said. “It’s a done deal; I promise.”
The 4J Youth Enrichment Center, a local non-profit, is also sponsoring a trip. The organization will be taking several young people to D.C.
For more information about Pender’s bus trip, call 336-575-2006. Six seats are left on the Shiloh bus. Call Pierre Burton at 336-926-1447 for more information.