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At Oklahoma gatherings, Barack Obama's inauguration inspires hope

By Susan Simpson, James S. Tyree, Dawn Marks and Bryan Dean Modified: January 21, 2009 at 9:09 am •  Published: January 21, 2009

Ahsan Lone watched history happen Tuesday.

Lone, a junior at Northwest Classen High School, said he was glad Principal Tamie Sanders let students watch the inauguration of Barack Obama because it wouldn't have been the same to watch it later on tape. Lone, 16, moved to the United States from Pakistan about six years ago.

"It's the biggest piece of history I've seen in my life. Who doesn't want to see history?" Lone said. "It's a good example of achievement and trying — a perfect example that you can do anything in this country."

Lone said he hopes Obama pulls troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and said he thinks Obama will do a lot for education in the United States as well.

Councilmen join crowd at center

Among those attending an inauguration watch party at the Freedom Center were Ward 4 Councilman Pete White and Ward 7 Councilman Skip Kelly.

The two decided to go to the party during a council meeting earlier in the day.

"I told Skip, I want to go somewhere real, somewhere it really matters." White said. "You can see it on their faces when people walk in here."

Kelly recalled his own experiences protesting as a black student at Oklahoma State University in the early 1970s. Kelly was among 400 students who walked out of school and came to the state Capitol after racial tensions flared on campus. Civil rights leader Clara Luper, who also attended the watch party, helped Kelly and his fellow OSU students, but not before giving them some sage advice.

"She was very instrumental in a lot of us graduating because she told us to go back to school," Kelly said.

OU students, faculty tune in to inauguration

NORMAN — Class schedules on the first day of the University of Oklahoma's spring semester hampered attendance at an inauguration watch party at Gaylord Hall, though not for long.

By 10:30 a.m. — a popular class time at OU — about 25 people were in the building's first floor to watch coverage when the inauguration ceremony began. Within a half hour, though, the lobby had several times that many people, mostly students, listening to President Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

"The end was awesome," said Tulsa freshman Jessica Mitzner. "I can only hope the beginning was just as good."

Catherine Hobbs, an English professor who attended the party from the start, said she watched the inauguration because "I'm very happy with the election's outcome, and this clinches it."

Graduate assistant Marisa Mohi of Edmond said all of her classes are at Gaylord Hall, home of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, which made the event location convenient.

"It was an important event, and you want to be able to say where you were when that happened," she said. "And at this inauguration, I was here."

OU watch parties also were scheduled at Meacham Auditorium, Ellison Hall, and at the Honors College, which also had two panel discussions on the inauguration with international scholars.

UCO student calls event extraordinary

EDMOND — University of Central Oklahoma student Joel Burris watched President Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday with wonder in his eyes and hope in his heart.

"It's pretty amazing," said Burris, 21, who said he's of black and East Indian descent. "When I have children, they'll have a role model that's not just an actor or a musician. Anything is possible now."

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