Citizenship ceremony held in Oakland

January 21, 2009 6:09:43 PM PST
More than 1,000 new immigrants from across the globe became U.S. citizens at the Paramount Theater in Oakland.

Silvestro Bakhit has wanted to say the Pledge of Allegiance since he came to the U.S. from Sudan 11 years ago.

"Originally I am from Southern Sudan, but now I am American," said Bakhit.

They are America's newest citizens, who took their oath at Oakland's Paramount Theater, just a day after the son of an African immigrant took his in Washington. The history they witnessed yesterday was fresh on many minds.

"I don't know if there is enough words to express the joy right after inauguration of an African becoming an American president," said Uganda native Michael Kiyemba.

"Even though he's African American, I think he speaks to everyone of color," said Peru native Zulyn Max.

There were 1,354 people from one 102 different countries. but today they are all American.

One by one, they stood up as their native countries were called. And one by one, they made the promise.

The immigrant story of the country's first black president is similar to many of their own.

"Much like President Obama said yesterday, everyone has dreams that they want to pursue, happiness. and the U.S. represents all of that," said Kenya native Terrence Chesire.

And now, they are all officially a part of that.