NPR Audience Comes To Obama Inaugural

An estimated crowd of nearly two million spectators descended upon the nation's capital to for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, including listeners of Tell Me More. Hear the highs and lows of inauguration experiences

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

And now it's time for BackTalk where we lift the curtain on what's happening in Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here. Hey, Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, millions gathered here in Washington and millions more tuned in to the media coverage of the swearing in of President Barack Obama. And so isn't surprising that so many of our listeners wanted to tell us more about their thoughts on the day. David wanted to say that while much has been said about Obama being the first black President, for him race was a factor but not the factor.

DAVID: I did not vote for President Obama because of his race but because of his values, his progressive populous politics, his integrity, his history with community organizing, his intelligence and his eloquence. If it had been the inauguration of Alan Keyes or Clarence Thomas I don't think the excitement would be nearly as great.

MARTIN: Thank you, David. Now, David told us that he watched the inaugural festivities in South Carolina. We also heard from listeners who traveled from near and far to Washington, D.C. to brave the cold weather. We'll hear more from them in a minute. But first, an interesting lesson learned by Leah, a middle school teacher in Houston.

LEAH: I'm looking at color. I'm looking at my brown self, you know, in front of these students whose skin, you know, is a lot lighter than mine. It was just really weird in a good way. I was just in a state of awe because not only that was his day important, I felt that my being in their life at that present time was important, too.

HILL: Thanks, Leah. Now, Michel you were out in the cold braving the frigid temperatures broadcasting and in yesterday's blog post, I think you said...

MARTIN: Tell me about it

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HILL: I think you said yesterday that only twice in your life have you been as cold as you were on Tuesday. Well, Herb made the trip down from Pennsylvania. He came here all excited about Obama, but went home not at all excited about his experience. He writes, my son, daughter and I had passes to the National Archives where we hoped to view the post swearing-in parade. We spent five futile hours going from barricade to barricade. Every security station gave us the same answer, nobody allowed through here. We finally gave up and returned to my daughter's apartment.

MARTIN: Well, Herb, I am sorry to hear that. Your experience sounds a lot like our colleague Bracken Booker. You can read about his inauguration frustration on our blog. And I should mention that inauguration chairman, Dianne Feinstein, she is the senator, of course from California. She issued a statement saying she was not pleased to hear stories like this, and she asked the relevant agencies to report back to her about why things like this happened. Well, finally, leading up to this week's festivities. The moms responded to a question from our listener, Catalina, who was debating whether she should bring her children to the inaugural festivities to face the crowds - we heard different views on the programs. Well Catalina wrote back to say, she did decide to bring the kids. And I read a little bit of her note, she says, I was surprised at how easy it turned out to be. I hope someday my children will fully understand why I took them. They're too young to grasp the full magnitude today. Lee, I have to tell you, she is a better woman than I am because I was not taking those kids down there.

HILL: Well, you know, I think she's a brave soul. And just to note to listeners, if you haven't already checked our Web site, we have sights and sounds from the inauguration. Two special features from Howard University where I was blogging live on the Inauguration Day. We also have an audio slide show featuring stories from the National Mall and more about that hat worn by the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin.

MARTIN: Hello.

HILL: Hello.

MARTIN: Thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Remember with Tell Me More, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again is 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name, and of course, you can also go to the Tell Me More page at npr.org and blog it out.

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