News

Tearful students and Shalala pack UC for inauguration party

WATCHING HISTORY: University of Miami students watch as Barack Obama is sworn in a president. The UC was overflowing with students who wanted to witness the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president.  CHELSEA MATIASH // Hurricane Staff.

WATCHING HISTORY: University of Miami students watch as Barack Obama is sworn in a president. The UC was overflowing with students who wanted to witness the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president. CHELSEA MATIASH // Hurricane Staff.

For those at the University of Miami who couldn’t travel to the nation’s capital for the swearing in of the 44th president of the United States, the University Center’s lounge was the next best thing.

By 11:30 a.m. Tuesday,  the UC was overflowing with people packed tightly inside the lounge. The doors could not close.

President Barack Obama’s voice projected into the breezeway, drawing more students along with the hundreds already gathered in darkness around the screen airing the inauguration. Although the university has hosted inauguration parties in the past, this year’s crowd was by far the largest.

“This is a collective experience and therefore deserves a big celebration,” UM President Donna E. Shalala said, who sat amongst students on one of the couches in the first row.

Junior Lionel Moise, first vice president of United Black Students and chair of the Martin Luther King Committee, kicked off the inauguration party by quoting Martin Luther King Jr.  With the inauguration of the first black president in America’s history, Moise urged the crowd to try to go beyond King’s dream of equality.

“Remember, today marks history,” Moise said.

The moment Obama’s image appeared on the screen, the crowd on TV and in the UC applauded and cheered.

Once the swearing in ceremonies began, the room fell silent and every eye focused in on the screen.

Barbara Jimeno, a resident of Alapatta, could not fight back tears as she remembered the discrimination she faced when she left Cuba with her father in 1960.

“I can remember sitting on the back of the bus,” Jimeno said. “So, for me, this day is the best thing that ever happened.”


Inauguration Party from Miami Hurricane on Vimeo.

For the younger generation, the event meant something different. It was more about looking to the future than reflecting on the past.

“Seeing him become the first black president makes me, as an African American, want to set my goals higher,” sophomore Jonathan Bell said.

Obama’s message to the people was a somber one, but filled with undertones of hope.

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met,” he said.

A loud round of applause filled the room again at the conclusion of the speech, and a line began to form around a table of food.

The event, sponsored by the Office of the President, Multicultural Student Affairs and United Black Students, provided a free buffet of meatballs, spring rolls and potato for attendees.

“I didn’t know this was going to be such a big production,” said Lucas Harriman, a graduate student. “It’s easy to think this is overblown, but the truth of the matter is this will always be remembered. It was nice to sit here in a place of higher education with all this diversity and realize that this is what America is all about.”

January 21, 2009

Reporters

Liana Kozlowski

Contributing Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A day after naming Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke co-defensive coordinators, the Miami Hurricanes ...

It doesn’t matter if the number is actually 21 or it’s just what Jeremiah Payton estimates now. Twen ...

The Miami Hurricanes didn’t waste long to find their replacements for Manny Diaz at defensive coordi ...

The Miami Hurricanes will have to try to get revenge on the Wisconsin Badgers without perhaps their ...

Mark Barnes likes to call Zion Nelson a “throwback” player, but the coach really means Nelson is sor ...

The Foote Fellows Honors Program offers students added flexibility to pursue multiple academic inter ...

Commencement speakers share gems of insight and wisdom as more than 1,000 UM students graduate in tw ...

During a news conference Wednesday, a UM medical team talked about the clinical findings after exami ...

Your one-stop shop for University of Miami fall commencement information. ...

The University of Miami will welcome more than 1,000 new graduates into the UM alumni family during ...

Hurricanes Name Banda, Patke Co-Defensive Coordinators; Promote Simpson to Associate Head Coach ...

The No. 24/22 Miami women's basketball team will conclude its three-game homestand Sunday at 1 ...

World Series champion and UM baseball All-American Jon Jay will headline the 2019 First Pitch Banque ...

Fall graduation ceremonies held Thursday at Watsco Center. ...

The Miami women's basketball team ascended one position in each of the major national polls thi ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.