New Yorkers' 'great day for all mankind'
A crowd of hundreds who braved frigid temperatures on 125th Street in Harlem burst into deafening cheers, many jumping up and down, waving flags and crying after Barack Obama was sworn in yesterday.
Charise Miller, 36, of the Bronx, and her sister watched Obama finish the oath on a Jumbotron. The two hugged and sobbed uncontrollably, saying thank you over and over.
Im speechless, said Miller, who said she was especially happy her 99-year-old grandmother, who once was denied the right to vote, lived to help elect the first black president. Weve achieved another milestone as a country, not just as a person of color because it took all nationalities to make this happen.
People huddled together outside the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building for several hours to celebrate the historic event in Harlem, which many said was the next best place to be yesterday outside of Washington, D.C.This is where black people are, said Deborah Ferguson, 48, a Harlem resident and city worker who took the day off, donning a button featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama. This is where they struggled. The energy is out of this world.
Many said they came alone, wanting to share their happiness with others, albeit strangers.
Even though theyre strangers, theyre all family were all connected. Its as if weve known each other for a very long time, said Beatrice Davis, 51, who showed up at 8:30 a.m. There are chills running down my body, and its not because its cold.
Meanwhile, hundreds gathered to watch the ceremony on big screens around the city.
When President George W. Bush appeared on a screen at Times Square, several in the crowd sang: Na na na na, Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye.
Downtown in the City Hall Council Chamber, a sustained ovation erupted as a standing-room-only crowd watched Obama get sworn in. Children waved tiny American flags and many adults openly wept.
I just wish my father and grandfather were here to see this, said Aaron Nickey, 38, of the Bronx. A black man is up there running the United States of America.
Nickey, who is black, was one of about 1,000 people who watched the inauguration on a handful of TVs set up throughout the building.
Obamas speech, broadcast on a giant screen in the council chamber, was interrupted half a dozen times by cheers and shouted praise.
I just thought it was extraordinary, said Queenie Huling, 63, of Coney Island, who grew up in the segregated South.
I am so proud to be an African-American today, to have come to where weve come.
Daniel Neiden, 50, of Manhattan, brought his two children, 10-year-old Evan and 7-year-old Dora.
I think the world stopped to listen, he said of the speech. And I think they heard that its time for all of us to get back to work.
In Harlem, Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Gates, 30, of Bay Ridge saluted as the Jumbotron played the national anthem.
Its a great day for all mankind, regardless of race, creed or color. Im excited and proud, Gates said. Thats my new boss, so I got his back wherever, whenever.