Swin's Experience during the Inauguration Weekend

Click here to view the photo gallery

I have had some amazing moments in my life but this past weekend by far is one that I will remember forever. It was not only amazing and inspirational but I also ended up taking more video/pictures than a mother at her child’s first birthday. Yeah you could say I got a little carried away lol. This weekend for me was less about fun and more about the substance. The historical milestones that were unfolding before my very eyes coupled with a serious reflection within me to ask can I do more. As an African American woman that has heard the stories of struggle from my elders within the black community, to the struggles I have faced head on as a women in this world, this weekend was a game changer. It was like I hit the reset button and never want to look back.

It started off Friday morning when I flew to New York for a charity event in the Bronx, with United Healthcare and their partner Eco Media. I spent time Friday afternoon painting the community center that was being refurbished and speaking to some of the youth. Anyone who knows me understands that my heart is committed to inspiring our youth in everything that I do. Winning championships are a lot of fun but seeing a kids eyes light up from a hug, a smile or a positive word touches me deep in my soul. Saturday morning I packed up shop in NY and was off to DC.

First I have to tell you about my fan moment with Anderson Cooper. I’ve been a fan of his work for years, watching him cover crises around the world. As I’m waiting to board my flight to DC I notice that he is sitting not too far from me in airport terminal. I said to myself, I’m going to go introduce myself and just ask him a few questions. Well as I’m on my way over a few people walk up to him and start asking for pictures. So in mid stride I make a U-turn back to my seat. I didn’t want to seem like a fan so I just chalked it up it to hey maybe some other time. As I was boarding my flight actor Jeffrey Wright was sitting next to me and yes Anderson Cooper was sitting in front of me. Of course I didn’t say anything to Anderson Cooper but Jeffrey Wright and I chatted for most of the flight. He was extremely nice and even laughed when I said do people always ask you about being in Shaft. As we were about to leave the flight Anderson Cooper tried to grab his bag that was over my seat. I’m taller than he is, so I helped him pull the bag out and he said thank you. So hey I did kind of sort of, well not really speak to him. lol

Saturday was a fun filled day of running around to pick up my tickets, getting my hair done and spend time with a few friends. Nothing like a little shopping, low key dinner and a movie for me. All was going well until foolishness occurred in the movie theater. During the movie some young kid sitting in the first row kept shining a laser red on the screen. A lot of people started yelling at the kid to cut it out! One woman left the theater to get security and the other guy got up looking for the culprit. Well he finds the kid in the front row exchanges words then smacks the kid upside he head and tells him to cut it out. I could tell this gentleman was from old school but in today’s world applying old school principals can have deadly implications. The gentlemen return to his seat and the young man got up yelling don’t hit me like that no more man. At that point all I remember seeing was the kid pull his mask up on his face and people starting moving quickly out of the theater. It was like I was in a movie with in a movie.

Needless to say nothing happened and we received passes to comeback and see the movie. Yeah that wont be happening Regal. How is it inauguration weekend with thousands of new people in the city, a Saturday night and you don’t have a security person on duty. A lot of people were up in arms over this. Here it is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr weekend that represents so much to us all but yet this fear, unknown and disregard for life that’s happening in our country saddens us all. But this small instance wasn’t going to ruin my joy for what was to come.

Sunday was beautiful and instead of heading to a ball we called and audible and switched up the plans. I enjoyed a fun filled day of salsa dance, pool and laughs with friends. Learn to appreciate the small joys in life with people you truly enjoy. While shooting pool I got this crazy idea to fuse my picture with one of the famous shot of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr shooting pool. I captioned it “ He had a dream, that gave me my shot”. Which is still something that holds true to this day.

Monday was the big day and boy did I take it all in. Hearing the beautiful voices of Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé. The first lady’s fashions choice didn’t disappoint and our Presidents speech was all that and more! His speech was moving, inspiring and had me even convicted with in. What more can I do was the question I left the inauguration with. How can I contribute and help create change for others. One of the best quotes that really touched my heart was…

“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

This statement was bold, truthful and so heart warming to me. People around me black, white, Latino and Asian all cheering together. I looked around and just smiled thinking Dr. Martin Luther King Jrs dream would now be President Obama’s destiny. His speech was unifying in so many ways but when he said “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together." I knew that this is our time America! The future will be what we make of it. Later that night I attended the Inaugural ball with friends. Braving the cold weather and my one size too big heels to jam the night away to the sounds of a legend like Stevie Wonder was the perfect cap to an amazing celebration. Seeing the President and the first lady show the world what true love looks like and to see the hug smile from our VP Joe Biden that seemed to signal I’m up next! I had a blessed time during this weekend and glad I got to share it with lovely friends I adore. I will never know how many people died for my freedoms but I will forever honor them by standing up for justice, inequality and racism whenever given the chance. Dr. King said "...our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth." May his dream live on in you and I forever.

Hugs!

Swin