UC Berkeley linked to new administration

January 20, 2009 5:08:58 PM PST
Distance did not dampen spirits at UC Berkeley Tuesday. Students gathered there to watch the inauguration at a campus that has always led the charge for change.

Not since the free speech movement have so many people gathered in UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza. The crowd was 10,000 strong for an event many imagined would never happen in their lifetime.

"For this moment in time I am alive in America. For once in my life I felt part of this," said LaRue Moore, a teacher in Richmond.

"I'm kind of speechless just because of everything that's happened. How exciting of a moment this is? How big of a moment this is?" asked student James Roberts.

UC graduate Fiyori Melake was born in Africa and told ABC7, "The white house is no longer the house of white. It's the house of all colors."

Those who packed Sproul Plaza for Tuesday morning's event did so knowing that the university will share a connection with the new president's administration for years to come.

Christina Romer will head Obama's team of economic advisors. Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu will serve as Energy Secretary.

"It's a courageous decision because Steve Chu doesn't have that government, Washington experience, but he knows the subject better than anybody else," said UC physicist Richard Muller.

"He's been a messiah for Berkeley and now he'll be a messiah for the country," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

While the new president relies on UC Berkeley's best minds to advise him, those same people will look to him for inspiration.

"Everybody embodies the same essence of faith and hope and drive and service right now," said student Shameka Poetry Thomas.

"I can go back and teach my children that they can be. I looked at my grandchildrens' pictures and said 'You can be.' I am overjoyed," said LaRue.