Thousands witness history at Oracle Arena

January 20, 2009 5:35:24 PM PST
Thousands packed Oracle Arena Tuesday to witness history being made with Barack Obama's inauguration.

There were lots of cheers.

There were even some boos, like when the emcee announced, "The President of the United States, George W. Bush and the honorable Dick Cheney."

For the 6000 people who packed Oakland's Oracle Arena it was a day of pure emotion.

"I wanted to be here. I didn't want to be home alone," said Oakland resident Arthur Gurlly.

At times it looked more like a sporting event than a presidential inauguration, with buttons for sale and even basketball jerseys in the stands.

But there was no mistaking the historical significance.

"Why a man, whose father less than 60 years ago, might not have been served at a local restaurant, can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath," said Obama during his speech.

It is a history Jessie Taylor knows all too well.

"I grew up in Mississippi and I was in on part of the sit-in at the counters, trying to just get a seat. And, at that time I never dreamed I would live to a point to see this," he said.

All over Oakland it was a day of pride. At Everett and Jones Barbecue Restaurant at Jack London Square, the celebration started early.

"I'm hoping that Barack Obama can initiate the change that this country desperately needs," said Roosevelt Thomas of San Francisco.

The swearing-in of the country's first black president is something most said they hoped to one day see. For others it is now the only reality they know.

"Anybody can be president," said 11-year old Eric Willis.

For more than 500 other young people from the Oakland Military Institute it was an educational field trip.

"They wanted to be here so badly, like all of us did," said Institute teacher Dennis Fagaly.

And, it was a lesson of a lifetime.