Tom & Prinny at Obama inauguration 20 January 2009By the time Prinny and I arrived from Virginia by train at L’Enfant Plaza, access to the National Mall via 7th Street was closed. The area was full. All access points between 7th and 14th were also closed. We finally entered the Mall near the Washington Monument. The mass of people filling the Mall between there and the Capitol building was impressive. We kept walking.

We went all the way to the opposite end of the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. Most folks reading these words already know that my first cousin, six generations removed, was the head of the most successful slave-trading dynasty in U.S. history. James D’Wolf was also a United States Senator from Rhode Island. Prinny Anderson and I met through the Coming to the Table project. Prinny’s great, great, great, great, great aunt is Sally Hemings. Her great, great, great, great grandfather is Thomas Jefferson.

Being descended from people so deeply connected to the founding of our nation and the institution of slavery we decided that witnessing Barack Obama’s inauguration from Abe Lincoln’s front yard-where Dr. King shared his Dream with America-felt exactly right. I visualized Martin stretching out his arm toward the Capitol and Barack reaching back. Sharing knowing smiles across the Mall I imagine a giant “fist bump” over the Washington Monument.

We still have a long way to go to fulfill the dream of America as envisioned by Jefferson and others. Today represents a giant step along the way.

(Note: I’ve loaded 18 photos onto my Facebook page. If you’re not a member of Facebook you can access my inauguration photos here.)