LOWNDES CO. AL (WSFA) - While Alabamians watched history unfold in the nation's capital many had a front row seat here in the River Region.
The Lowndes Interpretive Center hosted a watch party for high school students from Montgomery, Lowndes and Dallas counties for Tuesday's inaugural ceremony.
In a place packed with Civil Rights history, history unfolded for students.
The young men and women witnessed what they are calling the outstanding historic event of their time as it took shape at the Center.
"For my father to, a couple of years ago, to go into a restaurant and can't even sit down, " said student Jabrell Mccall, "and for me to stand up here and he [Obama} take the highest oath to be President is really big!"
The students took in the moment, letting the change of administration stir a change inside themselves.
"It made me think...that I can be something and I don't have to settle for less. I can settle for more," said student Cornelius Washington. Before Obama was elected Washington says he didn't really have that feeling.
Hope and energy filled the room as President Obama stood behind the podium to giving his inaugural address.
While many of the students struggled to wrap their arms around the greatness of the event, others who know the images of the Lowndes Interpretive Center all too well were overwhelmed with emotion.
McCall didn't live in the time of segregation, but through her grandmother's stories she understands the day's meaning.
Obama said "we must carry on this legacy" and, who knows, his legacy may have started on the historic trail somewhere between Selma and Montgomery.
"The March Continues"
At the Civil Rights Memorial Center on Washington Avenue the theme was "The March Continues".
The facility boasts a wall of tolerance, a section dedicated to social justice and also included classrooms and a theater.
Folks turned out to watch the inauguration at the Center including Civil Rights leaders like the pastor of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.
Obama supporter Kevin Ingram showed up at the Center and said he was proud of what was happening. Ingram, who is in the Air Force, beamed with delight that his children take Tuesday's events for granted. Not living in the days of segregation he says his children don't think there is anything special about the day.
"We are going to be led now by merit," said another Obama supporter named Vanzetta McPherson. "I can't wait for it to have it's trickle-down effect on the populous, particularly on children," she added.
ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY
At Alabama State University another local inauguration celebration attracted thousands from around the capital city.
Amidst the dancing, singing and celebrating it seemed as if people were saying, "Finally, a dream is realized."
More than 3,000 people cheering at ASU's Acadome for change. The building was bustling with activity as faculty, students and locals came together to celebrate something long awaited.
"It's amazing to actually see this happen," said Aresha Thomas. Obama got her first vote in a presidential election and it's a vote she'll never forget. "Something like this that could actually happen? and you wouldn't believe it. I'm part of it. I voted and I'm happy," she beamed.
Fellow ASU students like Jason White say it's a chance to *see* history in the making. "For Barack Obama to be in office, I mean, it's something people have been waiting for ever since the name came up. And people were saying he finally has a chance to really do something." White said.
"I am so elated. Actually I don't think elated is a great enough word. I don't think there is a word in the dictionary to describe how I feel," explained ASU student Shannon Brown, "I'm 18 and the first time I voted in life, a black man was elected president."
Some students anticipate a long night ahead. "I know I won't get any sleep tonight. Everybody in my whole dorm is just gonna be wide awake just talking about it," said another ASU student.
Talking about it now gives Aresha Thomas confidence. "It lets me know that I have a chance. I have a chance to make it. I have a chance to be what I want to be."