As Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States Tuesday (Jan. 20), several University of Mississippi staff and students will be among those seated in front of the Capitol.
Six people from the UM William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation have tickets to the historic event waiting for them in Washington, D.C. The group leaves Saturday (Jan. 17) and returns to campus in time to begin spring semester classes on Jan. 22.
“After the election last November, I went online and applied for tickets to the inauguration,” said Susan Glisson, director of the Winter Institute. “The odds of us actually getting tickets were slim, so we were planning just to make the drive and be on the Mall.” Glisson said that during the Christmas holidays she received notices from both U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker’s offices that the institute had been selected to receive six tickets.
“I was shocked, elated and grateful,” Glisson said. “I actually have to go to their offices in order to pick up the tickets on Jan. 19.”
David Molina, project coordinator for the Winter Institute, said when Glisson first shared the news, he couldn’t believe it.
“It was, and still is, hard for me to comprehend the magnitude of it all,” Molina said. “I expect to experience a variety of emotions as different people speak that day. I’ll probably cry at some point.”
Others in the UM group attending include interns Nickolaus Luckett of Drew, Patrick Weems and Megan McRaney of Madison and volunteer Douglas Ray of Jackson. Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter and his daughter, Eleanor, also have tickets and plan to attend, Glisson said.
The group faces a 13-hour drive to and from the capital. They plan to stay in friends’ homes rather than hotels and must pass a thorough security check. They have volunteered to participate in a to-be-announced service project Monday as part of a national Martin Luther King Day observance. Undaunted by the conditions, interns in the delegation said they consider themselves most fortunate to be admitted to the festivities.
“Three million people are expected to show up in D.C. that day, only 240,000 of whom will have tickets,” said Luckett, a sophomore public policy major. “There were other interns who want to go as much I do, but because of Wintersession classes, they can’t. I’m really excited to have been chosen.”
“Having the chance to go is unbelievable,” said McRaney, a senior sociology major who serves as vice president of the UM Associated Student Body. “My hope is that the event will have a unifying effect, not only for those in attendance, but for all of America.”
For more information about the Winter Institute, call 662-915-6734 or go to http://www.winterinstitute.org .