Local events celebrate Obama's inauguration

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | 10:02 p.m. CST; updated 10:08 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 20, 2009

COLUMBIA — The crowd started gathering at 7 p.m. with people grabbing bingo cards as they came in the door. Others stood in groups of friends and caught up after the holiday break. Queen Latifah's voice, carried through television speakers, greeted viewers to the first public inaugural celebration.

Students gathered at the Gaines/Oldham Black Cultural Center at MU earlier Tuesday to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama and came together again that night to celebrate.

Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the National Association of Black Journalists sponsored the day's events, which included a breakfast, the inauguration, a presidential toast and games.

Derrick Christian, vice president of Kappa Alpha Psi, had the idea for the celebration and brought it to Tiara Williamson of Delta Sigma Theta and Mallory McClaire of the National Association of Black Journalists to help organize.

Christian attended the watch party in November that the Delta Sigma Theta sorority had hosted and wanted to have the same excitement for the inauguration.

“My Mizzou peers were congregated in this very room and when Obama was elected it was so happy, there were tears, people calling their family and celebrating with signs in the street," Christian said. “It was such a monumental moment that it didn’t make any sense not to have the same spirit of celebration for the inauguration," he said.

Jarred Hopkins, a sophomore, had experienced that feeling.

“I came out because I remember the night of the election, the camaraderie of that night, and I wanted to feel it again," Hopkins said.

While the presidents of each organization stood to toast Obama, downtown at the Blue Note another inauguration celebration was happening.

The Boone County Democrats and Democracy for Missouri sponsored Tatters to Tuxedos, a free inaugural ball

The event featured live music, video feed from D.C. and the chance to participate in an inaugural ball.

People wearing gowns and tuxes mingled with those still wearing their hats and coats. Older couples danced to the music as parents swung their children around on the dance floor.

Tracy Jones said she brought her son Alex, 11, so he could participate in his own future.

“I brought (him) because this is a historical moment that is a part of his future,” Jones said. “It’s important for him to know what is important to his family and be a part of a community celebration,” she said.

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