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Jamming on the Mall for Obama

A huge crowd gathers between the Lincoln and Washington memorials on Sunday, Jan. 18, for an inauguration-opening event of musical performances interspersed with speeches and historical readings.

When three eighth-graders from Ithaca, N.Y., passed Constitution Hall, their history teacher would have been delighted to hear them recall a recent class lesson: It was here that contralto Marian Anderson was forbidden to perform in 1939 because she was African American. So she performed instead for an adoring crowd at the Lincoln Memorial, one of the defining gatherings of the civil rights movement.

"Talk about progress," Sydney Derful, 13, said of the appearance on that same spot of the future first African American president. "It really links those two things together."

Actress and singer Queen Latifah made Sydney's point during a brief tribute to Anderson during the performance. "This afternoon, we are celebrating not just the inauguration of a new president, but the ongoing journey of America."

Clancy Sullivan, 60, was thinking of history as she sat in a lawn chair and recalled watching King's speech as a nursing student in Baltimore.

"I think the dream has come true," Sullivan said.

Staff writers Paul Schwartzman, Mary Beth Sheridan, Michael Birnbaum, Michael Alison Chandler, Dan Morse, Theola Labbé-DeBose, John Kelly, David Betancourt and Elissa Silverman contributed to this report.


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