Kentuckians hit Washington in high spirits

January 19, 2009 | | Comments 1

By Beverly Fortune –

President-elect Barack Obama

President-elect Barack Obama

In high spirits, Central Kentuckians piled off two motor coaches in downtown Washington D.C. Monday  morning, undaunted by having endured a 12-hour bus ride.

They were elated to finally get to the city where president-elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated on Tuesday.

“I’m excited, overjoyed. I want to be part of history in the making,” said Clara Bradshaw Roberts, 59, of Lexington. Roberts made the decision on election night to be here. “I said, if I”m walking, I’m going.” Her sister Mary Bradshaw, 61, came along also.

Vicky Ritter was determined to be here “because our generation got the easy part,” said the vivacious 42-year-old mother of six. “Our forefathers got slaved, got lynched. We got it easy. We didn’t get the dogs. We didn’t have to sit in the back of the bus. So that’s why I’m here, to honor the sacrifices of people who went before me.”

Tava Clay, retired counselor at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School, organized these two motor coaches for family, friends and Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters. When the first  bus filled up in early December, travel agent Tim Napier of Danville arranged for Clay to have a second.

In all, Napier made arrangements for nine bus loads of Central Kentuckians to come to Washington, including five buses carrying more than 200 Frankfort high school students.

After 12 hours on a bus, what most adults in Clay’s group wanted was a hot shower. But that will come Monday night.

Coming into the city, Lexington pastor Jonathan J. Johnson took the bus microphone and pointed out national landmarks including the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. One lone police cruiser was parked beside the Jefferson Memorial. “Heightened security,” Johnson quipped.

In several places, the group passed long lines of portable toilets, ready for the epic potty lines predicted on Tuesday.

After stopping at Souvenvir City to buy memorabilia, the Kentuckians headed out for a day of sightseeing. They will tour the Lincoln Memorial, visit the Smithsonian and American History Museum.

Few of these Kentuckians have tickets for the swearing-in ceremony. Rewa Smith will get six tickets from Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office, but she has to pick up the tickets in person between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. She was fretting about how to even find his office.

Rev. Leon Slatter with Cadentown Baptist Church, who grew up in Tifton, Ga., “in an atmosphere segregated to the max,” said his friends were not worried too much about actually seeing Obama raise his hand to be sworn in. “Mainly, they want to be in Washington to be part of that excitement.”

Slatter said: “We’ve read about the crowds, cold weather, all the walking, crowded subways. But people are willing to endure that because they’re so excited.”

Filed Under: Barack ObamaFeaturedMitch McConnell

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