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Desert’s Black Community Celebrates Historic Inauguration

It has been more than 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In it, he declared his hope for racial equality in America.

Over the decades, there have since been triumphs and troubles. But many see Tuesday’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the next step toward making Dr. King’s dream a reality.

Tuesday was a day Barbara Monk and her neighbors at the Sun City Palm Desert community never thought they would see.

“I still can’t really absorb it all and the meaning of it all, because I keep thinking, ‘Oh, this is still not real, this still can’t be a black President,” Monk said as she sat with her neighbors watching the historic moment.

Many who gathered at Monk’s house still remember the historic civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Centuries of struggles for the African-American community have left many with deep scars; wounds they hope President Obama can help heal.

“We didn’t have any dreams of anything like this. At least, I didn’t, my family didn’t,” said Monk’s husband Billy. “But when it came to fruition today, I said, ‘Well, the Lord has a lot to do with it.'”

But President Obama’s appeal crosses all racial lines.

Many of Monk’s neighbors said the new president will help unite America’s patchwork of heritage.

Just ask Ernie Gore, cousin of former Vice President Al Gore.

“If President Obama was Caucasian, I’m not sure it would have a unifying effect,” said Gore who was watching the new president with the Monks. “I think it’s a real plus that he’s an African-American.”

Linda Campbell said her brother wishes he could have been part of the historic day but instead got stuck in South Africa and watched history unfold miles away.

“They had so many people in South Africa who took the seats to the plane to go to Washington,” said Campbell with phone in hand.

But no matter where you were on this special day –South Africa, Washington,D.C., or here in the valley — we all witnessed America swear in its first Black president.

It was history.

The dozen of friends and neighbors at the Monk resident shared a toast after President Obama finished his speech.

“He maybe the 44th President in succession but to many of us he’s numberone,” toasted Gore. “For our children and our grandchildren, God bless you, Barack!”

KESQ News Team

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