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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
C. Freeman January 18, 2009, 3:29 PM

I was there in Mississippi, a freshmen whenthe black/white schools were first intergrated…I was there during the aftermath…Now, I get to live the 1st Black President’s inauguration through your blog!

Nina A. January 18, 2009, 7:10 PM

I am so proud of you and I am so fortunate God put you and Kennedy in my life. I look forward to reading the rest. xoxoxo -Nina and Brianna

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Blitz January 18, 2009, 10:53 PM

That was nicely writen. I pray you and Kennedy have safe and bless time in DC. This is an historic moment for us all, soak up all you can. These memories will last forever. I looking forward to hearing all about it the trip.


Keira Lowery January 19, 2009, 12:53 AM

Naila… I know it has already been said, but that was beautiful!!! I look forward to seeing this journey through Kennedy and your eyes. I know how powerful it was for me to have my kids with me on election day and being able to share history with them. Please don’t let your story stop with this blog. I will be looking for Naila, Kennedy and Barack the book.

Linda W. Cook January 19, 2009, 9:37 AM

My darling Renai, As I read your blog about your trip to D.C. it brought back so many memories. I was part of that history when you talked about you as a little girl in Hot Springs and Pops and Winnie adoring you. As someone else stated, you write like your mom. It is beautiful and so well said. It just put me right there in your grandparents home as I was reading. You and my beautiful Kennedy enjoy yourselves and please be safe. Give my love to Aunt Pat. I cannot wait to read the rest of the story. Blessings always. Aunt Coochie

Angelica January 19, 2009, 4:04 PM

AMAZING! Great blog, can’t wait to find out more!!!

Anonymous January 23, 2009, 8:29 PM

What a beautiful

Barb January 23, 2009, 8:38 PM

I hope the inauguration was everything you dreamed it would be and I know your Grandpa was right there to see it with you. I hope that this presidencey can bring out the sameness in all of us and rid ourselves of the differences. We are much the same. I could have written the same thing about my family except that they did not face the same kind of racism dealt to the blacks. We lived in poverty and that is part of the problems your family faced. Trying to educate the children was a real accomplishment that my parents too were so proud of. I remember once when I had moved north and thought life would be better, my husband and I were both working and looking for a house to purchase and I was told by people in the neighborhood that they would not welcome a “hillbilly” living there. I hope that we can now begin to see people for the good that they bring rather than the color of their skin or the origin of their birth.
I will anxiously await your future blog.

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