OBAMA MAKES HISTORY: Haringey supporters stand shoulder to shoulder
PUBLISHED: 13:59 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:51 07 September 2010
Jonathan Goldberg 07958 229 037
Charlotte Newton HARINGEY residents crowded into the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham on Tuesday (January 20) to celebrate Barack Obama s inauguration. Black, asian and white supporters stood shoulder to shoulder to watch live coverage of the first b
HARINGEY residents crowded into the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham on Tuesday (January 20) to celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration.
Black, asian and white supporters stood shoulder to shoulder to watch live coverage of the first black President of the United States being sworn in.
Equality campaigners named the event Dare to Dream: Yes We Can! to galvanise ethnic minorities to become involved in politics, with discussions, speeches and exhibitions throughout the afternoon.
The choice of venue was pertinent as the arts centre was built in memory of the late Tottenham Labour MP Bernie Grant - who became one of the first Black MPs in Britain in 1987. Mr Grant, who moved to Haringey from Guyana, died in 2000, but his widow, Sharon Grant, joined in the celebrations.
She told the Broadway: "Bernie was always an optimist and he thought things were achievable.
"I know that he would have thought this was an occasion for huge celebration. Anyone who has watched the struggle for equality in the US could only view Obama's election with a sense of pride. There is a sense of justice surrounding the whole thing, sometimes things do come right."
Mrs Grant, who lives near Alexandra Palace, said the lesson from her husband's involvement and Obama's victory was the only way to change society for the better was to engage with the political system.
"We can all stand outside the political system and throw stones," she said. "But that only gets you so far. Bernie moved from being an activist to a councillor and then an MP - and he became very influential.
"It's great that the centre is able to host this event. There is a real sense of excitement from black and white people locally."
Hornsey resident Adam Jogee, who represents young people in Haringey on the UK Youth Parliament, spoke at the event. Mr Jogee, 17, who is an A-level student at Highgate School, told the Broadway: "This is a once in a life-time opportunity to be involved in an event that we are very unlikely to see in a long time.
"While we must acknowledge the symbolism and importance of Obama being the first black President we must also move to a time when it's no longer a surprise to see black people in positions of power and influence.
"I'm very lucky - I've lived in a Haringey all my life which is a hugely multicultural and embracing part of London."
Event organiser Juliet Alexander said: "Obama is pivotal to improving civil rights in America but we all have a role to play in supporting him around the world.