OKOLONA – When President Barack Obama was re-elected a group of local women quickly decided they wanted to take part in something historic and near to their heart.
Nine women from Zion Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Okolona got on the bus in January to attend President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies and enjoy a whirlwind tour of the nation’s capital.
“We got on the bus early Jan. 19 and came back home late Jan. 21,” said Geneva Holman. “It really was a special trip for us.”
Holman said the women – Edna Cunningham, Emma Bailey, Annie Kate Stephen, Letha Ivory, Shantell Ivory, Tyrechia Ivory, Loretta Braylock and Natasha Braylock – boarded a charter tour bus in Columbus and rode non-stop to Washington.
“We really were nowhere close to the Capitol for the actual swearing in, but we did get about a block away and were able to watch it on the big-screen TVs that were set up everywhere,” said Holman. “You had to have tickets to get to the actual inauguration. We had passes that let us walk up as close as they would let us to the inauguration ceremony.”
Holman said the group realized how big and historic the inauguration would be when they got off the bus.
“We were in a parking lot with more than 200 other tour buses from different states,” said Holman. “A lot of people traveled a lot further than we did to attend the ceremony. We ended up having to walk about three miles to our spot and stood for more than four hours.”
Holman said the streets of Washington D.C. were packed and she got to meet and talk with people from around the country.
“I had never been to Washington,” said Holman. “When people at our church started talking about going to the inauguration I realized how important it would be.”
The group did not attend any of the inauguration parties, but they did tour the Martin Luther King Museum. They saw many of the nation’s historic landmarks from the bus.
“The day was sunny and cool and I’ll never forget the experience,” said Holman. “We had to get right back on the buses and didn’t stay for the parade.”
Holman said the trip wasn’t easy, each member paid for their transportation and the walking, standing and riding were exhausting.
“Watching an African-American be sworn in as our 44th President for the second time was a historic event,” said Holman. “I’m thankful my friends and fellow church members got to be a part of that. It’s something we will never forget.”