Local teen to attend inauguration

Local teen to attend inauguration after LeMoyne contest

  • By Barbara Miller January 19, 2013
Beverly Porter, 13, is all smiles as she holds Coco, a Yorkie, at the LeMoyne Multicultural Community Center Wednesday. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

They’re about the same age. They have dogs as pets. They all live in Washington.

When 13-year-old Beverly Porter was talking about going to the inauguration Monday, she wanted to know, “Are we going to see the girls?”

Malia Obama, 14, and her sister, Sasha, 11, attended the first inauguration of their father in 2009, and the chances are pretty good that they, along with their mom, Michelle, will again be standing beside their dad as Barack Obama takes the oath of office for the second time.

Malia and Sasha live in Washington, D.C., and Beverly is from Washington, Pa., but she’ll be traveling to the inauguration as the top student in the “Cocobucks” competition at the LeMoyne Multicultural Community Center.

Coco, top dog at the LeMoyne Center, is the pet of executive director Joyce Ellis, and students who attend the after-school program there have a chance to earn points in the form of play money called Cocobucks for completing homework assignments, helping with tasks around the center and demonstrating good behavior.

Jody Lydic, a neighborhood team leader in Washington for the Obama presidential campaign, will be taking Beverly to the inauguration, meeting up with Nena Hatcher, her former ward, before heading to the National Mall.

Lydic and Nena made the news over the summer when they met the president at Carnegie Mellon University after his campaign appearance at the school.

Lydic was Nena’s guardian while the girl’s mother, Liz Kitchens, was serving in Iraq and Fort Bliss, Texas, but mother and daughter are now living in Maryland.

They have no tickets for the event, so Lydic has cautioned Beverly she’s going to be watching the ceremony on a Jumbotron rather than up close and personal.

Former Washington County commissioner Bracken Burns, a Democratic Convention delegate in Denver who had tickets to the 2009 inauguration, said he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd under bleachers watching a screen, so merely possessing tickets does not guarantee a spectator a view.

Beverly, a seventh-grader at Washington Junior High School, watched the presidential debates this past fall as part of her social studies class. She remembered Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, talking about topics like taxes, but her impression of the first lady is somewhat more vivid.

“Michelle Obama helps lots of kids,” Beverly said. The inauguration coinciding with the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday holiday not only gives Beverly a day off from school, but it gives Ada Gay Griffin a day off from work.

Griffin, who was an Obama volunteer in 2008 and had a more formal role in 2012 as a fellow for the Obama campaign’s Organizing for America in Washington, wasn’t able to make the trip for the first Obama inauguration because it fell on a workday.

But this year, she’s capitalizing on the coincidence.

“I’m going by any means necessary,” Griffin said Thursday, noting she wants to show her support for the president and Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, the first laywoman to lead an invocation at a presidential inauguration.

“Medgar Evers was murdered in his own driveway, and she took up the mantle. Barack Obama is making a statement, making a bold choice, and I want to support him in that position.”

Evers-Williams is a former chairwoman of the NAACP.

Griffin said she’s looking forward to participating in an event that promotes democracy, and while she’s in the nation’s capital, she wants to stop by the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

The president intends to use King’s Bible, along with the Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office.

“I’m just very happy that he’s back and that he’s going to be around for another four years,” Griffin said of the president. “There could be no better leader in this country at this time.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.


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