NAACP sends local students to inauguration

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Putnam County chapter of the NAACP has sent a group of four local students and a pair of chaperones to Washington, D.C. this week to be a part of the inauguration festivities for Barack Obama. Making the 10-hour trip were (from left) Derek Dean, Robert Watson, Ashton Marshall, Allison Cobb and chaperones Rajai Bimbo and Beth Newton Watson.

As unprecedented crowds gather in Washington, D.C. today to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, at least six residents of Putnam County are among the hundreds of thousands seeing the event in person.

The Putnam County NAACP chapter sent four local high school students and a pair of chaperones to Washington to be a part of the inauguration. Making the trip were Robert Watson and Ashton Marshall of Greencastle High School and Allison Cobb and Derek Dean of South Putnam. Trip chaperones are NAACP Chapter 3051 President Rajai Bimbo and Beth Newton Watson.

The six travelers will not only be witnessing history, but they will be encouraged to document what they see, whether with cameras, journals or video recordings. In this way, they will also be able to bring their experiences in Washington back to Putnam County to share with others.

"This is a very historic moment. This is a pivotal time and we want to record it," Bimbo said.

Beth Watson agreed.

"I think we're bearing witness," she said. "We'll be able to tell people about what we saw and why it was important."

The group departed Greencastle on Sunday morning and is staying with a D.C. resident with Greencastle ties for three nights. They will begin the trek back on Wednesday morning.

With Sunday night and both Monday and Tuesday in the capital, they will also have the opportunity to experience more of the city than simply today's inauguration.

The four teenagers find themselves at a unique age to be witnessing the country's first African-American president. On one side, they are old enough to see and understand what is going on politically. On the other, the are still at a point in their lives in which they can go and witness the event without leaving behind many responsibilities.

"It's the first time we're going to have been old enough to understand what's going on," said Robert Watson.

Between the students and the chaperones, all seem to share an appreciation for the history they will witness.

"So much of the world will be watching," said Beth Watson. "People feel like the United States, in this election, once again became a leader and took a risk. Things are not perfect here, but this election makes people around the world who have been marginalized more hopeful."

Bimbo also sees the trip as an opportunity for future leaders to learn from the current leaders of the nation.

"I think some of the people we're taking are finding their own leadership qualities," he said.

As of Thursday evening, the group had been unable to secure tickets to the inauguration, but were still hopeful. If they don't get tickets to the actual event, they plan to try and watch from the Lincoln Memorial.

Wherever they are for the event, all six know it will be more exciting than watching from Indiana.

"They get to watch it on TV at our school. To actually watch it in person will be 10 times better," said Marshall.

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  • Not sure if the kids were all chosen because they are black or it is just a coinsedence.Obama is "OUR" president and hopefully his term isnt just a black celebration.Caution must be used to not minimize his role and success by just limiting him to being a president of only one group. Send a diverse group of kids so ALL groups realize the significance of the History being made. Many from these other groups are happy the history is being made.

    -- Posted by honestyisbestpolicy on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 6:53 AM
  • Obama is 50% white. Why didn't they send 2 white students? This is the time to bring us all together.

    -- Posted by albert on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:18 AM
  • If I'm not mistaken two of the students are biracial, the mother of one is pictured. The way I look at it is that they were sent by the NAACP, and they have their mission, as well as budget constrainrs. Two schools are represented here, I am sure that many other schools sent students, and some groups were all caucasian, but who cares. What matters most, is that these young people get to be a part of something I wish I could attend. Like "honesty-is-the-best-policy" said this is OUR president. I didn't vote for him, However, I have to admit, I'm so proud of America today its hard to contain myself. The road ahead is long but we are making progress. Let's not look at the small things, but let us work together as one in order to leave a wonderful legacy for our children.

    -- Posted by Reliablesportsfan on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 9:20 AM
  • America will never be united so long as one group is taxed, penalized, and regulated for the benefit of another.

    When the concept of freedom becomes foreign to a free people, then freedom becomes the purview of a ruling class. The king is dead, long live the king.

    -- Posted by VonMises on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 11:00 AM
  • I am sad that we are talking about unity yet we are focusing so much on the color..Is this not a big historical event in our lives period that after 8 years a new face with be in there? (not suggesting good or bad view about that) Racism can also happen by putting "token" people in a role simply because of their skin.

    -- Posted by Life Is Good on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 12:04 PM
  • I ask, why do they keep calling Obama "black President?" First and foremost he is biracial. He is not 100% black! I for one am proud to see a bi-racial President. Yes, there has been a race problem, and most of us thought we would never see a "black" President. But for the most part, bi-racial children were looked down upon more so than being all black. And I never would have thought I would see a "bi-racial President". And by the way who cares? I look at him as a very, very intelligent person who has more charisma in his little finger than all of us put together. Go Barack!!! So no, fact...he is not a Black or African American. He is an AMERICAN!!!! One other question, why are whites not called "white Americans?"

    -- Posted by whodouthinkur on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 7:29 AM
  • I wonder this: if this had been the inaguration of the first woman president, and the DAR had sent a group of young girls to the inaguration, would there be as much blabber?

    I doubt it. There'd be a lot of "you go girl!" and not a lot of "why didn't boys get to go?"

    *** Side note: The DAR stands for Daughter of the American Revolution.

    -- Posted by MsBehaving on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 9:17 AM
  • Some of these comments are just ignorant and petty...once again it I am so proud to live in such a backward community.

    -- Posted by citizenoftheworld on Fri, Jan 23, 2009, at 10:52 AM
  • I don't care if they are white, black, purple, whatever as long as they represent our community well. I hope the trip inspires them to do great things in the future. Congratulations on being chosen!

    -- Posted by LangdonUlger on Sat, Jan 24, 2009, at 6:55 AM
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