Far from the parties, the receptions, the crush of inaugural celebrants gathering in downtown Washington, Jack Ellis, 20, black and unemployed, stood alone at a Northeast bustop for a few moments yesterday afternoon and said what Jimmy Carter's inauguraltion means to him: a job.
"I'll take anything I can get - whatever breaks." Ellis, a carpet installer who has been out of work since July, echoed the voices of a number of black inner-city residents interviewed yesterday as they watched the District's inaugural motorcade wind through the changing neighborhoods of Capitol Hill.
Ellis lives in a city where 35.8 per cent of young black men are unemployed. He and others like him said that they hope Carter will bring them jobs, better housing and a new sensitivity to the plight of poor Americans.
Around the corner, Carl Porter, a construction worker who has not had a job since July, said: "At least things can't get no worse . . . no worse than Ford. With Carter it's got to get better."
To Franklin Ashman, who walked by Lincoln Park weaving painter's pants, Carter had rekindled the Kennedy as pirations.
"Carter's my man," said Ashman. "I know he's going to do something. See this country ain't had nothing going since Kennedy, and Carter is the first one who is going to pick up where Kennedy left off. He is a good man. This was the first time I voted since I voted for Humphrey. That was in '68."
Ashman said Carter's religious faith appealed to him. He said blacks had helped elect Carter and he believed Carter would not disappoint them.
At a nearby bus stop Lee McLean said he was glad black District residents would have an opportunity to see the inaugural in person. He believes blacks need to be more conscious of politics.
"It is good that it is here. They should take it off the Hill and bring it out into the neighborhoods," he added. "See a lot of people, black people, don't take an interest in politics. But politics is what runs the country," he said.
"Black people need to get involved in politics now," McLean said.
Walking past the bus stop was Matilda Haggins, of the 1300 block of North Carolina Avenue.With her coat collar turned up against the cold, Haggins said people in her neighborhood knew of the inauguraltion, but they weren't involved in it.
"People around here know the inaugural is (today) but they don't have much to do with it," she said. "The new President makes a difference to me though. I voted for Carter, he'll try to help the coloreds. Ford was just for the whites and rich whites at that. I've got faith in Carter. He'll do something about unemployment around here."
Cloris Hawkins, a private nurse, hustled across East Capitol Street as she said she was frustrated with black people who care about drugs but not about politics.
"I'm a nurse and I've seen these people coming in all doped up and cut up after they've been fighting," she said. "They don't know nothing about the inaugural and they don't know how to get a job or keep a job. They wouldn't vote in November and they don't care now . . . I hope Carter will get some of them off the streets and off the drugs," she said.
Several city officials, including the mayor, failed to appear as scheduled at the District tribute in Lincoln Park to the new President.
One city official, council member Nadine Winter (D-six) who led the hurried 15-minute ceremony, said the Carter administration inaugural will be the rebirth of government-subsidized social programs.
"With this Democratic government we will see progress in areas of housing, health and social services," she told the Eastern High School gospel choir, and students and instructors from the Calvinade Beauty Academy who were asked to take part in the ceremony, as well as a few city employees.
Except for them the park was empty.
But Stephen Hopkins, 17, a member of the choir, was honored to be part of the inaugural celebration, despite the low attendance and frigid temperatures, because he believes Jimmy Carter will help black people as President.
"Things should change with Carter," he said. It may take a year or so and until then we'll just have to break crumbs, he said.