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Published: Wednesday, 1/21/2009

At party in Old West End, tears, cheers around TV

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Edward Dixon, sitting on the floor at right, hosts a gathering in his Old West End home for friends and relatives to watch the inauguration of the nation's first black president. Edward Dixon, sitting on the floor at right, hosts a gathering in his Old West End home for friends and relatives to watch the inauguration of the nation's first black president.
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Avie Dixon knew the occasion was coming. She joyously celebrated Election Day and had 77 days since for it to fully sink in that a black man would become the nation's 44th President.

But there she was, wide awake and giddy in the wee morning hours on inauguration day, as if everything was all still a big surprise.

"I woke up at 2:30 this morning like a kid on Christmas," recalled Mrs. Dixon, 62, an African-American studies teacher retired from Scott High School. "I never thought I'd live to see it. It makes you think that just anything is possible."

Euphoria swept away incredibility yesterday inside the Old West End home of Avie and Edward Dixon, as more than 20 of the couple's friends and relatives gathered to watch the televised inauguration of Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.

Many had been in a state of sustained celebration since Mr. Obama's election in November. Yet to see him be sworn in as President, well, that brought on the tears once again.

"I never thought I'd see the day," said Gerrie Lindsay, 64, of West Toledo, who vividly recalls Martin Luther King, Jr., nearly 46 years ago, helping to lead a march on Washington near where Mr. Obama took his oath yesterday.

Avie Dixon, an African-American studies teacher retired from Scott High School, beams watching the inauguration. Avie Dixon, an African-American studies teacher retired from Scott High School, beams watching the inauguration.
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"Just to know that I lived during the civil rights time and then to see a black president, it's overwhelming," Mrs. Lindsay said.

It wasn't just the older generation sensing depth to the unfolding history.

Troyce Williams, 20, sat mesmerized by the images from the nation's capital: "It's crazy. It's happening. You know what I'm saying - it's surreal.," he said.

There was much marveling at the sheer size of the inauguration crowd, which appeared nearly endless on the Dixons' 46-inch television screen.

Mr. Williams said he found the crowd - estimated at more than 1 million - especially moving because it demonstrated how important Mr. Obama's presidency is for people of all races and ethnicities.

"It was something that not just one group could take pride in, but we could all take pride in," he said afterward.

The atmosphere was wholly festive throughout the get-together, with excitement growing as the noon hour approached.

The was much clapping as the TV cameras zoomed in on each member of the Obama clan walking to the ceremony.

Michelle Obama inspired a few good-natured hollers.

"Strut my sister, strut!" Mr. Dixon said, evoking a few laughs.

The occasion struck a serious tone during the music compilation which preceded Mr. Obama's oath.

As violin and cello wailed, an elegiac atmosphere filled the room.

The camera held its focus on Mr. Obama, who for a moment seemed isolated and vulnerable.

"No Dallas," uttered a woman in the room, an apparent reference to the events of President John F. Kennedy's final day.

Minutes later the group launched back into applause, this time as Mr. Obama finished his presidential oath before Chief Justice John Roberts.

"He's in! He's in! He made it," Mr. Dixon said.

Brenda McWhorter of West Toledo was completely overwhelmed.

"I love it! I love it! I love it!" she exclaimed.

Soon everyone turned silent again. It was time to soak up the uplifting prose of their new President's first speech, his call to "set aside childish things ... to reaffirm our enduring spirit."

Mrs. Dixon later recalled how she mulled the possibilities of Mr. Obama's inaugural speech during her early morning insomnia.

"I kept wondering, 'How is he going to outdo his other speeches?' " Mrs. Dixon said. "But he did."

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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