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'Thank you, Lord'

January 20, 2009 |  2:02 pm

A crowd cheers on the Nokia Plaza at LA Live as Barack Obama takes the oath of office as the nation's 44th president.

When President Barack Obama finished reciting the oath of office, tears streamed down Alesia Adams’ face and she whispered, “Thank you, Lord,” as her husband, James, tightly embraced her and their two daughters.

The African American family had driven more than an hour from their Corona home to watch the inauguration at downtown’s LA Live.

“We could not miss this historic event,” said Alesia Adams, 42, a registered nurse. “We refuse to treat this as an ordinary day. We had to do something extra special.”

James Adams added that his father, a minister, marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.
“It was a day he didn’t live to see, but he knew it was coming,” said Adams, a bishop at Long Beach Worship Center. “We just wanted our children to be here to see this.”

The Adamses were among more than 1,000 people gathered at the Nokia Plaza, watching the festivities on 15 massive screens. The crowd, which began arriving at 4:15 a.m., cheered every time Obama’s face appeared on a screen and at scenes of the helicopter that would ferry the Bushes away. They bowed their heads in prayer with Rick Warren and sang “My Country 'Tis of Thee” along with Aretha Franklin.

Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, the company that developed LA Live, watched the diverse crowd from a nearby sidewalk — black, white, Latino and Asian, young and old. Downtown hipsters mingled with corporate types on their way to work and mothers pushing strollers.

“People from all walks of life, all over the state, are coming together and celebrating today,” said Leiweke, who raised money for Obama. “That’s not only a great thing about our country, it’s a great thing about our [democratic] process.”

-- Seema Mehta

Caption: A crowd cheers on the Nokia Plaza at LA Live as Barack Obama takes the oath of office as the nation's 44th president.  

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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