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USCL community discusses Barack Obama’s inauguration

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By Jesef Williams

Although the snow kept them from assembling Tuesday, students and faculty at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster got together two days after Barack Obama’s inauguration to discuss  what his presidency means to them.

USCL’s TRiO program and the student government association had planned an inauguration viewing, but the event was canceled due to the bad weather.

Thelathia Bailey, who oversees the program, said she wanted to have a viewing event to help ensure the students didn’t miss out on history. Organizers decided to have a gathering Thursday for students and others to share their thoughts on Tuesday’s events.

Freshman Chris Wood said he was amazed to see how many people – including celebrities and dignitaries – filled the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to witness Obama’s swearing in as the nation’s first black president.

Reports project there may have been more than two million people there.

Woods believes Obama’s presidency will foster change – a difference in the way people view each other and a change in policies.

Woods also believes Obama relates well to the youth. He likes the president’s plans to assist college students with finances by offering them service opportunities.

“It was time for a new beginning,” Wood said. “He can bring a lot to the table. He’s what the country needs as far as a change.”

Raquel Barros, coordinator for USCL’s Academic Success Center, said Obama’s widespread acceptance has changed the way she views the country.

A native of Brazil, Barros had associated the United States partly with prejudice, racism and discrimination. But she’s changed her view.

She said the nation has taken a big step toward more equality.

“I’m so happy to see this,” Barros said. “You can do anything if you work hard.”

Freshman Kristian Frazier glanced at a replay of Obama’s inaugural address and spoke of the pride he feels to have a black president.

Frazier, who is black, said he thought he’d never see a minority become president.

Obama’s meteoric rise is motivation for him.

“He showed me that I can do a lot with my life. I can do something real major,” Frazier said.

Andrea Campbell, an assistant in USCL’s financial aid office, said she believed the country would one day elect a black person as president, but not this soon.  

She recalls the feeling of hope and amazement each time Obama and his wife, Michelle, walked on stage at an event, especially during Tuesday’s inauguration.

“I had tears in my eyes and chills,” Campbell said. “It’s a new era.”

Campbell said the Obamas set a positive example for not just young people, but all citizens. She also said Obama’s presidency shows “anyone can make it in life to great places.”

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152