The shout that echoed through the walls of the Jamaican Consulate in Manhattan shortly after midday on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 was that of the scores of Jamaicans watching the live telecast of the inauguration ceremony and swearing in of the new president of the USA from Washington, DC.
On cue and without rehearsal, the joyous outburst signaled the start of one of the most anticipated moment in recent history, shortly after Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath and congratulated Barack H. Obama as the 44th President of the US.
As Mr. Obama recited the last four – and possible the most important – words of the oath of office, ‘so help me God’, the crowd in the waiting area of the Consulate, collectively exhaled with the rest of world in a joyous crescendo.
For many in the audience which included Consul General, Geneive Brown Metzger, it was a special day and a proud moment, never to be forgotten.
“This day means a great deal for me in terms of hope and responsibility, not just as a Jamaican but also as an American (citizen), noted Akelia Lawrence, a NYC Social Work Supervisor and President of JAMPACT, Inc., a tink tank comprising young Jamaican professionals.
Coming just hours after the national holiday marking/celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the occasion was not lost on AnnMarie Grant, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI).
“This day, this moment represents a significant milestone in the journey for civil rights, political growth and development of the US. It highlights possibilities for all irrespective of race, colour and creed. I am thrilled and ecstatic that I am here to witness it at this time”, she said.
“I have live here and voted in several elections and I have never seen this kind of euphoria and hopefulness for any incoming US Administration,” Consul General Geneive Brown Metzger told JIS News/New York.
“It’s a wonderful occasion to have a black president in the White House, it’s a big change”, commented Kenneth Roach, an Electrical Technician of Brooklyn, who was at the Consulate to get his new CARICOM passport. “We have been waiting for this for at least 400 years”, he said.
Watched by what could very well be the largest audience – live and television – ever, Barack H. Obama, the former Democratic Senator from Illinois, took the oath of office, becoming the 44th President of the US on the promise of a better America for Americans.