Montgomery, Alabama – Inauguration brings joy to Ala. civil rights sites
(AP) - A mood of celebration swept across landmark sites of the civil rights movement in Alabama today as Barack Obama became America's first black president.
In Birmingham, thousands gathered in historic Boutwell Auditorium to view the inauguration on a huge video screen. They give the old hall the feel of a church revival with songs, raised hands and flag waving.
77-year-old Ted Roberts recalled marching in civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham. He said he never thought this day would come.
Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper says it's ironic that a municipal auditorium where segregationists once met to maintain white supremacy was now the site of a mass celebration for the election of a black man as president.
In Montgomery, more than 3,000 people went to the basketball arena at historically black Alabama State University to watch the inaugural ceremony. The crowd included many school groups.
A senior from Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, Matthew Harris, said he was proud to be part of a generation that's starting a new era and fulfilling Martin Luther King's dream.
A small group in Selma marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and then watched the inauguration at a nearby cafe.
About 200 people - many of them students - watched the inaugural in rural Lowndes County at a National Park Service center marking the route of the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Central High School teacher Sheryl Nelson says her students are not familiar with some of the burdens others have experienced, but they understand that today is a blessing for them.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)