Last Modified: Sunday, January 20, 2013 6:41 PM
More than 50 people from Southwest Louisiana will be in Washington, D.C., today to witness the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
“During the four-day trip we plan to see the inauguration but also the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday and also the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Abraham Janice Jr., a retired command sergeant major. “The thing I am looking forward to is an opportunity to visit the Lincoln Memorial, also the memorial that is newly built honoring Dr. Martin Luther King and the Arlington National Cemetery.”
Janice, along with wife Carolyn, started this trip in 2009 after watching the election and deciding there were people in the area who were probably interested in attending the inauguration. They rented a bus and 57 people signed on to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as president.
This year, with the help of their friend Brenda Jackson, a diverse group of young and old people that includes retirees, students and educators will get to tour some of the capital’s most recognized monuments in addition to viewing the Jan. 21 ceremony. Janice said several of the people who attended the 2009 trip will be joining them again. To make others aware of their second trip, he put an ad in the newspaper and went to churches promoting what he considers an important historical event.
Janice said he wants people to have an understanding of what their tax money is being used for while in Washington, D.C., and also have an opportunity to see the people who are representing them. Sherryn Jefferson, who went with the first year’s group and who will be going again this year, said this is special for her because she knows many people will never get to witness this event and that she is “blessed to go.”
In 2009 she took her son with her and this year hopes to visit the White House. But she is mainly looking forward to coming back to Lake Charles and telling her friends and family about what she saw.
“I’m looking forward to witnessing history in the making in the United States,” she said. “There are people who never thought they would see a black president of the United States and I’m 57 years of age and never in my life I thought I would witness this.”
Jackson and her daughter will also be returning this year and want to bring people who have not yet made a trip for an inauguration. Jackson said even though their first trip was cold and they were gridlocked within the crowds everyone enjoyed themselves. She hopes to continue the trip with future elections and said it makes people more politically aware when they are able to partake in the ceremonial event.
“People can know my vote does count, I do have a voice, I am now being a part of that difference; it’s what you’re able to accomplish through your voting rights — we just want people to experience that,” Jackson said. “I just want to see the wonderment in their faces, to hear what they have to say about this event after they witness it.”