January 18, 2009

Locals at Inauguration: A wave of energy awaits

Wendy Byrd, the head of the Stanislaus County’s NAACP chapter, secured a couple of tickets to the inauguration through the offices of Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

She might end up without one.

She’s going back to Washington with five others from the NAACP, and they’ve agreed to, for lack of a better word, hold a lottery.

“I’m not worried about anything because God will place me wherever,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a seat up front, just in the area so I can absorb the energy. The energy is going to be so powerful over the whole city. ... realistically, you’re not going to be able to see, especially a short person like me.”

She’s simply excited to take it all in as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

While she said she couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate those 100 years with the inauguration of the country’s first African-American president, she reiterated that “this is not a black moment or a white moment. It’s the right moment.”

She said Barack Obama caught her attention during the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and knew he was somethign special. His ability to win people over and to be a consensus builder, along with his thoughtfulness, intelligence and organiztion, captivated her.

“He knows how to relate to ordinary people,” she said. “He knows how to build from the bottom up rather than the top down. There are more people on the bottom than on the top, and like any other structure, when you eliminate the middle part or bottom part, it’s going to collapse.”

Through her ties with the NAACP, and other community groups, she says she’ll have more than 100 functions to attend. She’ll do some networking and enjoy “having an open schedule.”

While balls and fancy dances before and after the inauguration are great, Byrd, who will be staying in Baltimore and using the train to get to Washington D.C., wants to spend time with people who focus their attention at the grassroots level.

“I want to go to the events where the ordinary, common folk are,” she said.

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