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A Mom's Journey to the Inauguration

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Momlogic is sending Naila and her daughter Kennedy to the inauguration, so she can share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with the rest of us. She leaves this afternoon. We asked her to write a post introducing herself as she prepares for the trip of a lifetime.

naila kennedy

Before Obama...

There was my grandfather. The day he died, the heat in the funeral home struck me as much as how many cars waited patiently behind the car carrying his casket. Turned to the window, I watched the road and stared blankly, avoiding my mom's face, instead chasing memories much happier than this day.

We rode deep into the mountains, in the pickup truck, windows down, him whistling, sometimes it was the porch while he drank scotch and smoked cigarettes and watched me perfect my splits and cartwheels ... other times it was the trips to McAllister's store ... 25 cents in my pocket and 25 pieces of bazooka joe bubble gum and shoestring French fries...

For thirty years he was the head waiter of a prestigious five star resort, never missing a day of work, many of those years supplementing that work with seasonal employment between Florida and Washington. My grandfather was the very definition of a southern gentleman, pressed shirts, ironed slacks, dress socks and wing-tipped shoes, dignified, ethical and loving ... as my mother put it.

My grandfather also knew the value of education: putting all six of his sisters through college during the height of segregation. During that time, the thought of a black president wasn't even a concept, not even a dream.

So the night Barack Obama took the stage in Chicago flanked by two brown girls and a beautiful statuesque wife, with Joe Biden and his family, it took a moment to process. It wasn't until he hugged Joe and the Bidens departed that my tears began to fall, digesting the reality that the highest office in the nation would belong to a man of color, named Barack Obama.

I expect a lot more tears between now and Tuesday ... some for myself, many more for my grandfather William Rogers, my great grandfather Fenton Cook, and others like them, who followed a code of conduct even when the rules didn't protect them, for Momma who as child read all the books in the colored library, hoping to read her way out ... for my grandmother and Bubber who raised joy-filled children in joyless situations yet expected happiness none the less ... the rest of the tears will belong to my proof of life, my daughter Kennedy, who will know more about inclusion than exclusion, who can't imagine a world where race once mattered so much....

We hope you will come share this journey with us,

Naila and Kennedy

Watch for more blogs from Naila and Kennedy, straight from the inauguration, here on

Check out Naila and Kennedy's videos from the inauguration here.

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32 comments so far | Post a comment now
JCarp55 January 17, 2009, 9:25 AM

I will be following your journey.

Femi January 17, 2009, 10:57 AM


Your introduction to your family and descriptions of your youth are very heart felt. i look forward to hearing more.


kitengia January 17, 2009, 10:58 AM

beautifully written…i’ll be following….can’t wait to hear more.

Katie  January 17, 2009, 11:08 AM

Well written! How exciting :)

happy445 January 17, 2009, 11:21 AM

This was very moving. I look forward to hearing more from you and your daughter!

Andreana  January 17, 2009, 11:22 AM

This was very beautifully written and I am so excited for you and Kennedy to experience this historic moment together. Enjoy the ride for grandpapa, grandma, bubber, enjoy it for all of the worlds ancestors from ago now remove!

Judy Butler Rivers January 17, 2009, 11:54 AM

Outstanding article. Pray your journey is safe. Awesome account of your family memories…. Your grandfather WAS a special man!

Rogena Cook Butler January 17, 2009, 12:46 PM

This is a beautifully written article. I know Daddy & Mama, along with all the other relatives who’ve crossed over, are beaming. Enjoy your time in DC for this amazing moment in our nation’s history. I’ll continue reading your blog.
Hope you and all the family members are able to get together. Stay warm.
Much love,
Aunt Rogena

Winifred Cook Twity January 17, 2009, 2:12 PM

Renai, This article was beautiful and brought tears to my ears. I will follow your journey through your blog. I hate that you will be so close to me but I won’t be able to see you and Kennedy this trip. Be warm and enjoy witnessing history in the making.
Love you much,
Your cousin

Brenda January 17, 2009, 3:04 PM

Nalia, like the rest I will follow your story, and the beginning is very beautiful. My eldest son when he was six years of age, felt the sting of racism. we lived down the road from a black family whom had a son the same age, and they played together up to about 3rd grade, and one day my son came home crying, because Tony’s family told him that he could no longer play with my son because he was white. it is a shame that racism works from both sides of the coin. but no one heres about this side. I just wanted to say this so that you all don’t think you are the only ones who go through it.

enjoy your trip, have fun, be safe, and God Bless each of you. :-)

jgpooh1995 January 17, 2009, 4:06 PM

that waz wonderful and moving i cant wait 2 hear more when she comes back 2 bad i cant be there 2 see it my self

Maya January 17, 2009, 4:23 PM

So good to have a similar soul on the journey - I know your words will be able to capture the moments perfectly and divinely preserved in history. Thank you for the work you did campaigning for this leadership, and being the most wonderful friend and example of an empowered woman who seeks change. Have fun and enjoy yourself… xo

Charles January 17, 2009, 5:08 PM

As a white 60 year old man, I will be following along. What I have noticed since Barrack’s election, is the smiles on almost every black person’s face I see in person and on the news. I think white Americans are seeing a different black Americia. I mean this in the most respectful way and I get the same feeling from Barrack. I think how much I am happy for them, I feel like almost saying: Welcome To Americia. I hope from this moment on, that, all of us will take our will take our personal responsibility to make “The Change” happen.

Betty Cook Rhett January 17, 2009, 8:32 PM

I remember you as a young girl in Hot Springs.You have a beautiful family.Tell them to keep up the good work.

dale averill January 17, 2009, 8:39 PM

Thank you both for sharing this extrordinary experience with all of us. I’ve been enjoying your mother’s facebook family history and am so happy you and Kennedy will be bringing the ancestors and all of us along. Much Love

Danielle January 17, 2009, 11:34 PM

What a precious journey to share with your daughter… You will both remember this for the rest of your lives. Love and blessings to you both on this trip!


Layla January 18, 2009, 6:57 AM

Beautiful blog Nai!

I can’t wait to hear more from you and Kennedy on the trip. I hope it’s magical.

Love Layla

Auntie Pat January 18, 2009, 11:11 AM

Darling Renai,

I wrote to your mother yesterday and said, “like mother, like daughter!” You write beautifully, just like your mom. I know daddy, Aunt Winnie, Uncle Rogers and all the others are smiling so brightly at what you’re embarking upon.

I am so excited you’re here in DC. This experience will be one Kennedy can hold dear to her heart forever. I can’t wait to see you guys this weekend! Enjoy my fair city and the inauguration of this wonderful man!

Can’t wait to read Part II of your journey!

Much love,
Auntie Pat

A C Farrell January 18, 2009, 11:15 AM

Second from left on the vintage photo, the wonderful Bubber, third from left William Rogers, beside him, your grandma, all of us are proud of you and the Kenster. Mama

Aund Rhonda and Nicole January 18, 2009, 12:53 PM

Our wonderful Renai and Kennedy,
This is such a historic time for us as a nation. We hope that you both will take in these precious moments with the knowledge that YOU BOTH are apart of history. This day was thought to never come and now it is here. Enjoy and we will be reading your blogs.

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