Obama inauguration inspires hope and optimism

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The swearing in of Barack Obama means different things to different people and varies to some extent-- according to characteristics like age and occupation. But, whether young or old, affluent or not, it's a day that fills many hearts with a new sense of hope and freedom to dream big.

While Obama is embraced by many of those who are young, the magnitude of the occasion is perhaps most fully appreciated by those who lived injustices youth can only imagine or read about in history books. Florce Floid is 85 years old and went to jail for civil rights. "When I was in jail, I didn't feel bad I was in jail. I was there for a purpose. It was serving a purpose. Floid led the Lake Charles NAACP for some 26 years."

As he watched the new president take office, his heart was filled with the joy born of moving past struggle and strife of years ago. "When I tell my little grandson get your education, do this and do this, I'm telling him the truth because now he stands a chance of being anything he wants to be."

And while Obama's presidency won't magically change hard hearts or eliminate hatred, Louise Cole of Cameron NAACP says it is a beautiful day. "I'm speechless, I'm just really speechless. It's been a great time, a great day, a great everything. God is yet on the throne."

And others like Chuck Bennett with organized labor believe it's a hopeful time for the working people as well. "We're getting together and we're stopping looking at the color of people's skin and looking at the content of their character, to borrow something from Dr. King. Part of being a unionist is you can't be a racist, a sexist or an elitist. And this right here shows the country is moving in that direction. Some of them are kicking and screaming, but they're moving in that direction."

Former state senator Jim Cox was the only Obama delegate from Southwest Louisiana. "It's a wonderful day for America. I'm just gratified that America has grown up and put aside childish things and we've got a great future with this young man and this new leadership."

It's a day Rocky Lute never expected to see. "I hope he'll do a good job in the White House for all mankind."

High hopes that, despite hard times,  are shared by many.