by Torianne Thornton
Tori is an editor here at WTOL. She's also a student at the University of Toledo.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech in front of thousands of people on August 28, 1963, telling them of his dream for equality among all men no matter their race or religion. And on January 20, 2009, over 40 years later, I woke up at three o'clock in the morning to catch the metro train from Alexandria, Va., to Washington D.C., for the inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States of America.
I was one of 2 million.
The U.S. took a big step in fulfilling Dr. King's dream by uniting to celebrate this historical event. People of all different ages, races and religious backgrounds stood side-by-side shouting, "YES WE CAN, YES WE CAN." Everyone was filled with happiness, laughter -- and, yes, there were tears of joy. There was no room for negative energy because a feeling of peace filled everyone's soul.
I spoke with an African-American woman, a seventh grade teacher in Virginia, and she couldn't wait to teach her students about the new chapter in American history. I spoke with two college students who had walked an hour from Georgetown University to the Capitol in Washington D.C., in 20 degree weather with smiles on their faces, because they were determined to witness this moment in time.
Cheers rang out among the crowd as President Barack Obama was sworn in stating that he would faithfully execute the office of the presidency. As people chanted for our President, I was thinking of the story I would be able to tell my children.
After all, I'd heard stories of my great-grandparents migrating north from Mississippi and Alabama to give their descendants a better future. My grandmother marched with the Black Panthers to fight for desegregation and equality.
Now, I have the chance to tell my children of how we as Americans have overcome a past of slavery and hatred. We allowed freedom to ring, and we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city.