Coming up

Don't miss




Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more


Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more


2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more


Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more


The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more


The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more


Politics: parties under pressure

Read more


In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • Israeli special forces attack Hamas base inside Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Holland beat hosts Brazil 3-0 to finish third in World Cup

    Read more

  • Afghan presidential candidates agree to full vote audit, Kerry says

    Read more

  • France’s Kadri wins eighth stage at Tour de France

    Read more

  • Germany vs Argentina - history and genius clash in World Cup final

    Read more

  • Legal challenge to French mayor’s ban of Muslim hijab on beach

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Video: Outrage in wake of deadly Casablanca buildings collapse

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces ‘executed prisoners in reprisal’ for ISIS killings

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

At the National Mall, the change has come


Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2009-01-20

Reporter Leela Jacinto has travelled to Washington to cover Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. Read her notebook to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the capital greets the new American leader.

FRANCE 24's Leela Jacinto reports on  the 'Obama art universe' and asks whether Martin Luther King's dream has been fulfilled.



A hush descends on the crowd gathered at the Washington Monument as trumpets ceremoniously roar on the sound system and the announcer declares, “Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president-elect of the United States.”


Minutes earlier, the ground around the Washington Monument was a gigantic picnic site, where thousands of people who could not make it to the Lincoln Memorial - where the ceremonies were being held - had gamely parked.


But as the sound system crackles, “Ladies and gentlemen, the president-elect of the United States,” and Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, appear on the gigantic screen, a sudden sense of urgency grips the crowd.


Mesmerised, they surge toward the screen. “I think he just waved at me,” says a teenager as the screen displays a grinning, waving Obama. “Oh, there’s little Sasha,” squeals an elderly woman like a proud grandmother displaying family photographs.


By the time the national anthem is sung, the mood turns electric. Grown men clasp their chests, tears trickle down some cheeks, and standing tall before the Washington Monument, Jeff - a 44-year-old former US Navy serviceman who declined to provide his family name - smartly salutes the proceedings.



“I still feel as patriotic as I felt on the day I took my oath in the services,” says Jeff. A registered Republican, Jeff declines to say who he voted for in the presidential election. But, he maintains, he is “a fan of the democratic process, I have faith in it.”


Sitting on a low wall ringing the Washington Monument, 75-year-old Matt Jacobson says his faith in his country has been renewed. “I’m very proud of Americans,” he says. “Years ago, I never would have thought this possible.”



Born in North Carolina before moving up to DC, Jacobson recalls his childhood in the segregated South. “I can remember when we had separate bathrooms for colored people, separate water-fountains, we even had separate entrances in cinema halls,” he said. “This is change. Change has come to America.”


Almost on cue, Jon Bon Jovi and Bettye LaVette croon, “It’s been a llllllong, long time coming,” in a soulful rendition of the Sam Cooke single, “A Change is Going To Come”.


But right by the Monument, on Constitution Avenue, Peter Keseljevic is not happy with the change that has come. Holding a sign that reads, “You want change not with Obama but with Jesus,” Keseljevic is protesting with a motley crew of hardcore Jesus fans, warning that Obama “promotes the sin of homosexuality”.


And what’s sinful for America, says Norwegian-born Keseljevic, is sinful for the rest of the world. “America is the leader of the world. What takes place in America goes around the world,” he says. “And America needs to take note of the Bible and stop chasing this sin of greed.”


The prospect so upset the Oslo-based electrician, that he hooked up with a group of street-preachers on the Internet and bought himself a ticket to DC.


In the freezing cold, Keseljevic argues with a spirited bunch of black students, one of whom screeches, “My father is a preacher and he says you may hate the sin, but you must love the sinner.”


But most of the folks here are just gathered to have a good time and to witness a slice of history-in-the-making.


Bryant Farland, a 38-year-old attorney, is here with his wife, mother-in-law and three little kids all gaily waving Obama flags.



“I want my kids to experience this,” says Farland. “This is historic.”


Farland says his 7-year-old daughter Gillian-An is particularly excited because Obama will be sworn in a day after the Martin Luther King Holiday. “Two of my kids are adopted, they were born in Cambodia,” he explains. “The fact that Obama’s inauguration falls a day after Martin Luther King Day points to an extension of what Dr. King worked for, so that our children will be accepted and allowed to excel in this world.”




Date created : 2009-01-19