Tears, cheers, and smiles gave life to Kresge Town Hall on Jan. 20 during “A Call for Community,” an event held to honor the presidential inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. About 100 students attended the event to voice their feelings and listen to guest speakers.

Renowned feminist studies professor Bettina Aptheker and historian David Anthony were the keynote speakers. Aptheker urged the audience to help “remake America,” referencing Obama’s closing words in his inauguration speech earlier that morning.

“We have to deconstruct before we reconstruct,” Aptheker said, referring to racial politics in America.  She also commented on how Obama’s appointments were  a step in a new direction, comparing Bush’s conservative cabinet to Obama’s bipartisan administration.

Despite the low turnout, the affair enabled intimacy and conversation between the audience members. More than half the audience spoke up to voice their hopes and opinions. 

One of those members was Tiffany Loftin, an energetic second-year economics and history major. Loftin was a head coordinator for the “Call for Community” event, as well as the Porter Inauguration Ball held later that night.

“My main hope is that our country keeps the energy throughout his session and long after, [and] especially through the hard times,” Loftin called out to her peers.

Ebony Lewis, a UCSC alumna, stole the stage when she passionately sang “Amazing Grace” as tears rolled down her eyes. The crowd responded in a standing ovation, with cheers of “encore” and “bravo.”

Felicia McGinty, vice chancellor of student affairs, spoke of her own recollections of race in America — she mentioned her parents were “one generation out of slavery.”

“I never thought this day would come. But it is only the beginning,” McGinty said. “We can do anything.”

Additional reporting by Donald Davis.