Local NAACP members take bus trip to witness inauguration

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

One week after witnessing history with the election of Barack Obama in November, Terrell Johnson, president of the Bowling Green chapter of the NAACP, promised himself he would be there in person to listen to Obama’s inauguration speech.

Two months later, Johnson’s dream was fulfilled on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day after raising a total of $11,000 for the eight-hour trip from Bowling Green to Washington, D.C.

Along with 75 other students and faculty members, Johnson boarded one of the two party buses that took the passengers to watch the inauguration of the 44th president yesterday evening.

‘This is the first black president in our lifetime and it’s just incredible,’ Johnson said. ‘We might not be that close to see him [at the inauguration], but at least we can say we were there.’

Although Johnson initially wasn’t sure if the funds needed for the trip would be raised in time, members of the NAACP and other organizations teamed up to create a number of successful fundraisers.

Through a program called ‘Trash for Cash,’ during which volunteers offered to take out dorm resident’s trash for a small fee, students were able to raise $1,000 to put toward the trip.

Johnson also dropped a letter pleading for support at every main office on campus.

Because of his efforts and the nature of the event, Johnson said Dean of Students Jill Carr and Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Whipple were able to donate $2,000.

‘I was unsure for awhile about whether we would make the money,’ Johnson said. ‘But everything ended up coming together and we managed it in the end.’

For senior Brittaney Johnson, finding out the trip was possible in the beginning of December was like an early Christmas present.

‘[Being on that bus] is like one big road trip with family and friends,’ she said. ‘But I’m not here for the bus – I’m going for the experience to say I was there.’

NAACP Adviser Bettina Shuford also feels anyone attending the inauguration should focus on the experience, and not the hype of the event.

Although the buses will be leaving Washington, D.C. shortly after Obama’s speech, Shuford said she wants the students to carry the message of the day back with them to the University.

‘Obama is all about hope, and people need to be inspired,’ Shuford said. ‘The dream is becoming a reality.’