Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington office, said he has fielded hundreds of telephone calls and emails since the Nov. 6 election from chapter officials in South Carolina, Florida, New York, Maine, California and Washington state, all wanting tickets for their members. Chapters from Richmond, Va., and Jackson, Miss., among others, are bringing groups to Washington for the festivities, he said.
"There's still a great deal of excitement within the African-American community about the second term of the first African-American president of the United States," Shelton said.
Victoria Wimberley, owner of an Atlanta-based event planning business, brought four busloads of people to Washington for the 2009 inauguration. She's coming again, though with two fewer buses, which she blamed on the high price for accommodations — not any lack of excitement for Obama.
Wimberley said she feels "the same level of joy, happiness, excitement and celebration" for Obama's second swearing-in among the people she comes into contact with. "Because now he can really go to work," she said, explaining her view that another term should free him to govern without fear of any political repercussions.
Some of those who wanted a seat on one of Wimberley's buses weren't as sure Obama would win in November as they were that he would win in 2008. As a result, they held off on booking hotel rooms. Then came Thanksgiving, preparing for Christmas and concerns about whether Obama and congressional Republicans would strike a deal to stop mandatory tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" from taking effect with the new year. Fitful negotiations went down to the wire, with Congress sending Obama a bill late on New Year's Day.
When people did get around to pricing hotel rooms "they just couldn't afford them," Wimberley said. Many hotels are charging hundreds of dollars a night for a room and requiring guests to stay at least three nights or four nights. Cost has been "the major conversation for lots and lots and lots of people," Wimberley said.
Presidential Inaugural Committee: http://www.2013pic.org
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