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Local Groups Plan Events For Obama Inauguration

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 07, 2009 - 06:23:00 PM

While only a select few will actually get to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on Jan. 20, many Bay Area citizens and organizations are coming together to have their own local celebrations.  

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson is putting one such series of events together. Carson’s office has mobilized numerous local faith-based and non-profit community organizations to put together small events, which emphasize community service and helping those in need as necessary tools to pulling the country out of the current economic recession, in the week leading up to Obama’s inauguration. The final event on Jan. 20 will take place at the Oakland-Alameda County Oracle Arena with a community viewing, starting at 7 a.m., of Obama’s inauguration and acceptance speech.  

“This is a call to action,” said Carson. “Barack Obama cannot turn this county around by himself. We have to leverage our resources and work together as a community to weather the storm of uncertainties during this economic recession.” 

On six non-consecutive days leading up to the inauguration festivities, there are activities planned at faith-based locations. These smaller events will commence with a service, an optional prayer, and music from local choirs. Following this will be presentations from community-based organizations on how to get involved in helping improve the economic situation in the country at the local level. 

“I want to stress that all these events are interfaith,” said Mateo Reyes, spokesman for Carson. “Regardless of your faith or multicultural practice, these events are really intended to celebrate and help out your community. We are trying to work with people that we haven’t worked with before. These faith-based institutions have done work with a myriad of people before, so we are trying to use them as a vehicle to reach across all areas: race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.  

The Jodo Shinshu Center, a relatively new Buddhist resource center in Berkeley, is one of the venues for the community gatherings. At the gathering, several Buddhist ministers from the Bay Area will come to speak and lead services, with traditional chantings. 

“We are hoping to incorporate a continued hope and commitment to the community even in times of economic recession,” said program assistant Yumi Hatta. “ We are hoping to adapt some of the content into a Buddhist setting. It will be a nice way to open the year and I think that people are looking forward  

to it.” 

Tickets to view the inauguration at the ORACLE arena are $5 at the Coliseum box office or at Doors open at 7 a.m. and Obama’s acceptance speech should start at around 9 a.m. Event parking is free. However, public transportation is also encouraged. School, senior and disability groups should contact Jeanne Palmer at 464-6949 for discount information. For more information about the Obama events, see 

The other “ObamaCelebration” events are as follows:  

• Sunday, Jan. 11, 4 p.m., at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland.  

• Monday, Jan. 12, 4 p.m., Jodu Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Ave., Berkeley. 

• Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m., St. Paul AME, 2024 Ashby Ave., Berkeley. 

• Thursday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m. (with $5 admission), Diamond Palace, hosted by Afghan Muslim Community, 4100 Peralta Blvd., Fremont. 

• Sunday, Jan. 18, 4 p.m., Beebe Memorial Cathedral, 3900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 

• Monday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m., Acts Full Gospel Church, 1034 66th Ave., Oakland. 

UC Berkeley is holding its own inaugural event at Sproul Plaza. UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau will welcome the community and refreshments will be served. 

“We are going to have a large community viewing of the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony on a 15-by-20-foot screen at Sproul Plaza,” said event coordinator Danielle Wiskerson. 

Across the bay, Inauguration West, a Jan. 20 evening event from 6-10 p.m. at the Metreon in downtown San Francisco, will commemorate Obama’s inauguration and will benefit local charities. California State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Golden State Warrior Stephen Jackson, and 49er football legends Ronnie Lott, Dwight Cark and Roger Craig, among others, plan to attend. 

“The Bay Area played a significant role in making the presidency of Barack Obama a reality, and we felt it was only natural that we join in the celebration of this historic event,” said Ave Montague, creator of Inauguration West. “We know that not everyone can make it to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration, so we are focused on providing people here with the next best thing. The diversity, the colorful entertainment and the excitement of the evening will all reflect the candidacy of Barack Obama.”  

Money from the event will benefit charities such as All Stars Helping Kids, Omega Boys Club, the Museum of the African Diaspora education programs and the San Francisco Black Film Festival’s Urban Kidz youth program. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit