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West Virginians Do Join in Saying "GO-Bama"
January 20, 2009 - Joselyn King
CHARLESTON -- In this election year, West Virginia so often was portrayed by national media as a racist state that in no way would support a black president or Barack Obama.
But those CNN cameras -- in Memphis and Harlem -- that showed the reactions Tuesday to Obama's inauguration weren't in Charleston, W.Va. at the West Virginia Cultural Center. It was here that probably more that 200 West Virginians packed the West Virginia State Theatre, where they watched a larger-than-life image of Obama's swearing in on a movie screen.
But for these people . . well, it seemed as if in their minds they were sitting on the stage in Washington, D.C.
When the crowd there was asked to stand for the invocation, so did the crowd in Charleston. And they even said a collective amen when the invocation was finished.
Cheers erupted when it was said the Aretha Franklin was about to sing, and they applauded enthusiastically when the song was done.
But the true feelings of the crowd became especially evident -- not from a happening there in Washington -- but after an alert that ran across the bottom of the CNN screen.
That note explained that it was after noon, and that even though Obama hadn't yet taken the oath, he was now president of the U.S.
All those West Virginians in attendance stood up and gave a standing ovation to the new president.
The room grew totally silent as Obama took his oath -- except for one word that seemed to spread through the crowd. "Jay. . . ." All recognized U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., standing immediately behind the new president.
The West Virginians also sat largely quiet as they listened to Obama's inaugural speech, but still they applauded each salient point.
When the oath was done, the National Anthem played, and many of those in Charleston sang along.
Many had been sitting alongside their loved ones, holding hands or with their head on their neighbor's shoulder. Some even exchanged a kiss after the oath.
It was all in West Virginia.
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