A busload of 50 people from across the metro-east and Missouri have traveled to Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama's second inauguration on Monday and to celebrate the late Rev. Martin Luther King's birthday.
As the bus swallowed the many miles from Fairview Heights to the Washington metro area, conversations about the re-election of Obama started like wildfires.
Some compared Obama with King and said both black men are good role models for young people to follow regardless of race, but especially young black men. Both men have shown great faith in God and compassion for the common man, they said.
Diana Jones, a minister from Florissant, Mo., called Obama brilliant and said he brings pride to many people across the country for the way he leads the country.
Admitting that she initially had a problem with foreigners coming here and "getting more than we as black Americans got ... I had to get that together. After watching our president at work, I learned we have to be leaders and show everybody that there is enough for everybody," Jones said.
Some of the bus riders talked about race relations, and though there have been some improvements, many riders think we still have a long way to go.
Carol Malone, of O'Fallon, said King, were he alive, would not be pleased with the young men sagging their pants and putting tattoos all over their bodies instead of focusing on education and bettering themselves and their community. She said he would accept the improvements we have made with race relations, but would not be totally happy with today's society.
The bus riders hope Obama can continue to focus on things like tighter gun control, immigration laws and health care for all Americans.
As the bus rocked with all kinds of soulful music and movies, including those for the children on board, happy conversation kept the bus riders focused on seeing Obama raise his right hand and take the oath of office for the second time. He will have his hand on the bible that the King used.
"I wouldn't miss seeing this event for the world," East St. Louis City Councilman Roy Mosley said. Mosley grew up during the civil rights era when things were separate between blacks and whites.
Mosley said he is pleased with the job Obama is doing and hopes Congress won't fight with him as much, especially since the people elected him to continue the work he started.
Some like Delores Jackson, of Florissant, Mo., were on their second Obama inauguration trip. She said he is a champion of the poor and middle class and is willing to do the right thing. "That's what makes him so popular," she said. "I would not have missed seeing this piece of history no matter what."
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.