Why I Went to Washington
In the 1960s, I grew up in a lily-white, mostly middle class small town in New England.
About the only black people I ever saw where ones on TV, being hit by water from fire hoses and being attacked by dogs on the evening news. Those scenes made me dislike white southerners in power, and made me feel something was really unfair about the way some people in our country were being treated.
I remember hearing Dr. Martin Luther King speak on TV. When he said, “I hope that one day my four little children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” I understood why he said what he did. I was six years old, and that made complete sense to me. It was possible to understand a little bit about racism without having experienced it personally.
When I was nine, I went to summer camp. Robin slept in the bunk over me. I wrote to my parents, “A Negro girl named Robin is in my cabin. No one is making fun of her.” At camp we learned that we could all live in the same cabin without any problem.
At about the same time, riots broke out and cities burned. I didn’t understand poverty and hopelessness could drive people to such lengths. I have to say, It didn’t make any more sense to me than the white policemen setting fire hoses on teenagers, or some nut bombing a church.
Most of America has made great strides in race relations since the ’60s. It’s not perfect. but it is getting better. To paraphrase Rev. Theodore Parker and Dr. Martin Luther King, “The arc of a civilized society is a long one, but it bends towards justice.”
The election of Barack Obama was one of the most civilized things our society has done. As an American and an Obama supporter, I wanted to be in Washington to help celebrate his Inauguration.
I drove to DC from Pittsburgh on Sunday morning. It was snowy over half the way down, so it took nearly six hours to get there (usually, it takes about four and a half). I got to my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Silver Spring. I dropped off my stuff, and my brother took me to the Metro. I went to town to watch the Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
I walked towards the Lincoln Memorial, but the line into the concert wasn’t moving much. I walked up the hill to the Washington Monument. There was a crowd on the Lincoln Memorial side of the Washington Monument, but there was still plenty of space.
Some of the Jumbotrons were set up on the Lincoln Memorial side of the Washington Monument, along with an odd police vehicle that looked like a viewing booth atop a huge scissor-lift.
The Jefferson Memorial was pretty dead during the weekend.