The crowd of thousands swayed in unison.
Tyrone Edwards remembers vividly how the energy moved them all. “We were swaying left to right but not voluntarily, it just happened,” he said. “It was important for us to be there because it symbolizes the beginning of change.”
On Tuesday (Jan. 20), Barack Obama took his oath of office in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to become the 44th president of the United States.
Tyrone Edwards, a 27-year-old Torontonian led 168 others on a bus trip to witness the event. He called the initiative ‘Get on the Bus: T.O. Supports Obama’.
Edwards is the leader of the Art of Business program at The Remix Project, a school that offers education and mentorship to disadvantaged youths in Toronto. “I wanted to give young people a chance to live out history and also for Toronto to have a presence there,” he said.
Bryan Brock and Thomas Sandrin, a French citizen and now living and studying in Toronto, were among those travelling with Edwards. Sandrin wanted to be a part of it and says it was an amazing experience that deeply touched him.
He will treasure this experience and make a point of sharing it with his nephew who comes from a racially-mixed marriage.
“I want to tell my nephew that his uncle was there and that he can make it in life,” Sandrin said.
Brock says he didn’t know what to expect. “The wonderment of it all was that for that size of a crowd, everything was really calm and collected, really quiet” Bryan said. “We were a small part of a big piece of history and that was amazing,” he added.
Brock is also an integral part of The Remix Project and says what he remembers most about Obama’s speech was a sentence that referred to “people judging you on what you can build, not what you destroy”. Obama was addressing world leaders at that point and Brock found that statement very profound.
Edwards heard Obama loud and clear when he talked about pairing “necessity to courage” and says this message speaks to the world and for all life situations.
“When you want something there are sometimes some trials that will discourage you and delay you but it’s a matter of being passionate, patient and keeping things in perspective. That’s also what got us through this journey” he said.
People around the world gathered to watch Obama’s historic inauguration and although they had their own reasons for choosing to be a part of it, a particular word resounded endlessly.
Obama himself campaigned on the idea of “change” and now that word is echoed throughout the world, including Toronto.