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Students Travel to Washington for Inauguration

Washington National Mall

CHICAGO, IL (January 19, 2009) – An estimated five million onlookers are expected in and around the National Mall to celebrate President-Elect Barack Obama’s historic inauguration on January 20—among them, more than 70 North Park University students, faculty, and staff.

The University-sponsored trip was offered to students on a first-come, first-served basis, and was funded by several campus departments. Donations were also received from the Compassion, Justice, and Mercy Department and the African American Ministers Association of The Evangelical Covenant Church.

For senior Tanikia Thompson, the opportunity to travel to D.C. is a dream come true. “I was there when Obama won the primary . . . and I was there to see him speak in Grant Park after he won the election,” says Thompson, whose parents came of age during the Civil Rights era, and whose grandmother grew up in Mississippi under Jim Crow legislation. “My family is so excited for me,” adds the Africana Studies minor. “My grandmother told me she never thought she would see this day.”

Thompson and five other Africana Studies students, along with Dean of Diversity and Intercultural Programs Dr. Terry Lindsay, will spend nearly a week in the nation’s capital, during which time they also plan to visit with students from Howard University. Two other groups of students—one with North Park’s University Ministries and the other with the student newspaper, The North Park Press, will travel separately to the event. Members of The North Park Press will also document their experience through a blog that will include articles, photographs, and video coverage from Washington.

“A lot of students have been directly involved in the planning process,” says Tony Zamble, North Park’s urban outreach coordinator, who plans to chaperone a group of 47 with University Ministries. “In addition to the historical significance, we see this as a way to empower students.”

His group will leave by charter bus Monday evening before the inauguration, and return Tuesday night. “We’re planning to play games, as well as show movies that highlight civil rights issues on the bus,” says Zamble, who notes the trip will underscore how people can bring change to Washington. “The idea is to make it both celebratory and meaningful.”