WASHINGTON- For Dr Berthie Labissiere inauguration of a president was always more pomp than circumstance. But on Tuesday January 20, the swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of the United States became more about circumstances than pomp as she watched history unfold.
Dr Labissiere was part of a small Haitian and Haitian-American group who gathered at Dr Emmanuel Francois’s home in Columbia, MD to watch the ceremony. Most of them are part of Haitians for Barack Obama created a year ago to push Haitian here to participate in the Democratic process.
“I have never been so excited watching TV like that,” said Dr Labissiere .
Dr Francois, who has been in the United States since 1966 recounted that he, has known about the assassination of Martin Luther King and the late Robert Kennedy and then in Obama, they recognize their own parents, who saw themselves as outsiders, their own struggle.
And so it was on a day that Dr. Francois’s adopted home, the United States, was making history that more than 200 years ago, his native country, Haiti made history of its own by becoming the first black republic. But the country has gotten more trouble than glory since then. That irony was not missed on many of the professionals who gathered at the suburban home of Dr. Francois. They hope that somehow Obama’s presidency would bring some much changes in Haiti.
“We have to show to the administration that this victory is also ours since we come from a country created by a great fellow Toussaint Louverture,” said Dr Francois.
While it is unclear how many Haitian-Americans made the trek to the nation’s capital, there were many parties and balls thrown around town. Nu Look, Phantoms and Tabou Combo all played over the weekend to entertain the Haitians who did make it to witness first hand the swearing in of Obama.
Near the Mall, Brooklyn-based Roots band, Djarara entertained the crowd nearby with some high energy music that helped keep people warn under the frigid sky. They chanted Obama’, ‘Obama’ on the trumpet and drum sound that send Whites, Blacks, Asians dancing and forget how cold it was.
Obama inherits a country and a world besieged by a crippling economic malaise and two wars. During his 30 minute speech, which was watched on the Mall on large screen television screens by scores of Haitian admirers, the president provided no specific solutions, but he dazzled his audience with some lofty rhetoric.
Obama left no doubt about the urgency of his domestic challenges — the lost jobs, the foreclosures, the shuttered businesses, as well as the weaknesses in an expensive health care system and in the nation’s schools. “They will not be met easily or in a short span of time,” he said.
Obama has already begun to wrestle with the economic crisis. He won congressional release of the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue fund with the promise to reduce foreclosures and to make loans more available to consumers and small businesses. And he is pushing through Congress an economic stimulus package that already stands at more than $825 billion in spending and tax cuts.
In a sweeping passage in his speech, he said:
“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”
He promised the world that “we are ready to lead once more,” a subtle rebuke of Bush administration policies in war and foreign affairs that candidate Obama had called narrow, highhanded or dangerous. Americans, he said, understood that their nation is exceptional more for its purpose than its power.
“Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint,” Obama said.
Obama’s success resonates with Haitians and other immigrants who value education as a way to reach the social and economic ladder in this country. This is something that they strike to instill in their children.
“I wanted to see the circle fully complete from the day the campaign begins until today,” said Herve Francois, Dr Francois’s son.
Herve and his wife came from Princeton, New Jersey. He was part of the crowd at the National Mall by the Washington monument but came to his dad home to watch the parade.
In a time of extraordinary challenges, Obama’s promises of a new approach to leadership give Haitians a reason to hope. They said that Inauguration Day should not be a time for Haitians and other immigrants to stop reflecting on past sacrifices and achievements.
” Haitians for Barack Obama will not stop their work at the Inauguration we will continue meetings on Haitian’s issues to make sure that this administration will be more favorable to Haiti,” Dr Labissiere said.

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