‘Seeing it with us…’

 

 

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Frankly, I was a bit frustrated today.

It was freezing, and I, like maybe 80,000 others, had to stand in line for hours to get into their Congressperson’s reception. I even missed a discussion over at the National Cathedral on Martin Luther King’s legacy.

But then I met Altadena resident Dolores Hickambottom and it reminded me of why we’re all here.

Hickambottom, 77, is well-known in Pasadena for her and her late husband’s work in the struggle for civil rights and desegregated schools in the area.

You’d think that as a local leader in that struggle, she would have been to D.C. before.

But seeing Barack Obama take the oath of the office in person was the moment she decided to be here for the first time.

So there she was with her daughter Ann on Monday at Rep. Adam Schiff’s reception, before the first man of her color becomes president, humbled by the moment, but carrying with her

Frankly, I was a bit frustrated today.

It was freezing, and I, like maybe 80,000 others, had to stand in line for hours to get into their Congressperson’s reception. I even missed a discussion over at the National Cathedral on Martin Luther King’s legacy.

But then I met Dolores Hickambottom and it reminded me of why we’re all here.

Hickambottom, 77, is well-known in Pasadena for her and her late husband’s work in the struggle for civil rights and desegregated schools in the area.

You’d think that as a local leader in that struggle, she would have been to D.C. before.

But seeing Barack Obama take the oath of the office in person was the moment she decided to be here for the first time.

So there she was with her daughter Ann on Monday at Rep. Adam Schiff’s reception, before the first man of her color becomes president, humbled by the moment, but carrying with her the pride and the hopes of people who sacrificed their lives for that moment.

Hickambottom, who herself was born into the heat of a segregated New Orleans, isn’t here just for herself.

She’s here for her late husband, L.B. — a 16-year Pasadena school board member and veteran of World War II and Korea. He came back from the war to buy a home, only to find he couldn’t buy in certain areas of the city because of his color; for L.B.’s sister, Verdia Arnold, who couldn’t find a job in the area, but who ultimately became an officer for the Tuskegee ; and for her uncle, Peter Oscar Dupree, who served in France during World War II, and died there.

“I wish these people were here,” she said. “I happen to be spiritual, so I believe that somehow they are here, and they are going to see this with us.”

There’s a lot of people in D.C. this weekend who believe the same thing, and they too are carrying with them hopes and dreams of many who could not be here.

A lot of what you see are African-American mothers and daughters, who are here to relish all of this not just for themselves.

It’s like Dolores Hichambottom said, “I am bearing witness for those who have gone before…”

With regard to Obama, she was on board from the start, she said. And her daughter Ann noted that that is not insignificant.

A lot of people from her generation were crazy about Obama — a similar zeal that Ann noticed in young people. Perhaps it was because both generations had the same sense of idealism that drive their interest in civil rights, she said.

“I just see that they’ve gone crazy together for the same person, and once that ball got rolling, you couldn’t stop that,” Ann said.

The ball will continue rolling tomorrow at noon when Dolores Hickambottom sees Obama sworn in.

She’ll start to remember…

“I guess I’m going to feel a mixture of pride and a little melancholy for the people won’t see it,” she said.

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