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Electing to celebrate Obama

It seemed like half of Lexington was in the ballroom at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort, dining and dancing the night away. Dahlings, the huge gathering was the scene of a pre-inaugural ball, A Historic Salute to President-elect Barack Obama.

A group of African-American community leaders — including Anthany Beatty, the University of Kentucky's vice president of public safety and a former Lexington police chief; Dia Davidson, an anchor at WLEX (Channel 18); Gerald Smith, a professor of African-American history at UK; and Lynda Thomas, a writer and editor at Kentucky Educational Television — got together to throw this lavish bash Jan. 9. Attendees were wined and dined in splendor.

There was an air of excitement, and many people were planning to attend Obama's inauguration in Washington on Tuesday.

"I grew up in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s" Thomas said. "I saw firsthand the riots that took place after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

But Thomas' thoughts for the future are a bit more optimistic.

"I'm looking forward to celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama and having some wonderful memories, too, to offset some of the other ones," said Thomas, who is planning to attend the inauguration.

"We're going to the Bluegrass Ball, and we're going to the Southern Ball" she added.

Also in the crowd were Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry and his wife, Cheryl Ann Newberry; and S.T. Roach, the legendary former head basketball coach of the old Dunbar High School.

Ed Clark said, "I just wish him (Obama) well. I hope that he does the job that he's been elected to do. I hope he can pull this country back together. Right now, it's fractured and we need help."

Davidson said, "Having Barack Obama as our next president opens a new chapter in American history. It gives us all an opportunity to hope, an opportunity to look forward to change and also to give all of our children a vision of what their futures can hold."

Beatty added, "Certainly in my lifetime I never anticipated a significant event as this. There is certainly a lot of optimism and excitement not only for our cities, states and our country, but certainly the world. So that makes me really feel good."

Smith said, "His election as president of the United States is without question a monumental moment in American history. But it also lets us know that we have not reached the mountaintop, but we're headed in the right direction."