Roundup: Inauguration Celebrations Around Boston

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You didn't have to be in Washington to experience Inauguration Day and night. From early morning yesterday into the wee hours of today — in homes and schools, at parties and balls across Massachusetts, people gathered for the historic occasion.

We sent our WBUR reporters to a variety of locations in the Boston area. Here's their roundup of the celebrations.


I'm Meghna Chakrabarti at the Strand Theater in Boston.

"I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear..."

Hundreds of people, predominantly African American, made up one of the city's largest public gatherings.

Ninety-two year old Mary Henshaw raised her hands and prayed as President Barack Obama took the oath of office.

"Yes, lord! Oh, yes lord. I'm so happy! And it's a blessing, to be able for you all to see this."

And in the theater's upper rows, students from the Lilla G. Frederick Middle School laid claim to the "we" in "Yes, we can."

"My name is Ariel Soto. He's important to me because he's going to be making changes. And I believe in him, and the whole world believes in him, so, yeah, maybe I'll be president one day!"

As red white and blue ballons dropped in the aisles, Boston Mayor Tom Menino said even he felt a touch of Obama optimism.

"I believe he has the ability to bring all different people together, and make it happen for a better world for all of us."

When asked if that meant real change for the city of Boston, Menino, like almost everyone at the theater, simply said, he's hopeful.


This is Sacha Pfeiffer at the Daniel Burns apartment building in North Cambridge, which is a mixed-race, subsidized complex, mostly for the elderly.

One of the residents I spoke with is Cathy Mullane. She's 62 and she says she got a lot of just plain joy out of watching Obama be sworn in.


"I think it's wonderful. I really, really do. Not just because he's black, but — it's taken us so long to get here, you know?"

I also talked to Helen Spann, who's 70. She says the sight of so many black and white faces on the Washington Mall warmed her heart.

"Darling, that made me feel like the world is coming to a change. This is history."

She also says she knows Obama has a tough task in front of him.

"I know he can handle it but we, as people, have to be patient and give him time to solve the problem. The problem wasn't done overnight, so it can't be solved overnight."

And I spoke with Phyllis Stern, who's 77. She called Obama's election, in her words, "wonderful and historic." But she did mention that she voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary.

"I'm very happy for Obama. I am happy for the black community. However, we women are waiting for a woman president. And I do hope that this will occur in the future."

But, just like everyone else I talked to here, she says she wishes Obama and the country the very best.


I'm Sarah Bush at Charlestown High School where students gathered to watch the speech.

Many students felt a sense of hope.

11th grader Yusra Shamsoddine is excited to have a black president:

"He probably thought he wouldn't be president because of his skin color, but look he did, so he let everyone know that you can do what you put your mind to."

But 12th grader Gerald Nwosu says Obama's race is less important than what he accomplishes.

"I expect not only for him to not just bring hope, that's too broad. i also expect him to bring financial reforms and also fix health care."

This program aired on January 21, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.