Civil Rights Activists Watch As History Unfolds

Tuesday, January 20th 2009, 6:28 pm
By: News On 6

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9 for

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Groups of people gathered across Oklahoma at watch parties, and witnessed the historic event of President Barack Obama's Inauguration.

A group of civil rights activists, family and some city leaders got together at the Freedom Center in Oklahoma City.

January 20 was a day people have waited for all their lives, and many were overwhelmed with emotions.

President Obama's swearing in was a moment in time some wondered if they'd ever witness in their lifetimes.

"My daddy prayed for it, my grandparents and I've lived to see it," Civil Rights Activist Clara Luper said. "What we're seeing has never been seen before. Blacks and whites have come together, and together we've shown people what America is all about."

Clara Luper organized the historic sit-ins in Oklahoma City 50 years ago. On Tuesday, she sat with friends and family to cheer on President Barack Obama, a symbol for what she and so many others fought.

"I think about my mama who's given her life to the civil rights movement, it's not in vain," Clara Luper's daughter Mildred Luper Hildreth said.

Oklahomans from all backgrounds and ethnicities shared the historic day together. It is a day that will be forever etched in their memories.

"It's absolutely magnificent and a very proud day for America," Oklahoman Michael Korenblit said. "I'm proud of the American people."

It's a dream come true for those waiting their entire lives to watch an African American take the presidential oath.

"I know it's true," Civil Rights Activist Gloria Matthews said. "It's really like a dream. I've been dreaming about it. I couldn't even sleep last night."

For many Americans, President Barack Obama embodies hope, dignity and possibility.

"Only in America could something like this happen," Midred Luper Hildreth said. "We grew up with a lot of nothing, but I stand here today with so much pride, so much joy."

Many people said they thought of their family members who paved the way for the historic day, but never lived to see it.