Cosme Rios II at Obama farewell
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Local residents witness Obama’s farewell

Editor’s note: When President Barack Obama gave his farewell address in Chicago on Jan. 10, a number of Homewood-Flossmoor residents were there for the historic occasion.

The Chronicle asked them to share their observations and experiences. Cosme Rios II, Tamika Spicer-Britten and Destiny Watson provided the following insights. 

Cosme Rios II
Usually I would keep it easy and simple by watching online but my gut told me that to see a sitting president’s farewell speech hosted in Chicago was an opportunity that I should not take lightly.  

  Cosme Rios II of Homewood 
  at President Obama’s farewell 
  address in Chicago.
(Provided 
  photo)

I needed to do whatever I could to obtain a ticket.  In the end, that involved getting on the 4:36 a.m. train to McCormick Place on the Saturday when tickets were given out.

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Truly, it was a very honorable feeling.  There are plenty of historic events that happen each day but, I have never been a witness, in person, to one of such magnitude.  Of course, that is aside from the birth of my children.  That always should be number one!

The atmosphere was nothing but positivity for the event.  People were simply ecstatic to be there.  

When President Obama first stepped on stage, the crowd roared in celebration for the last speech he would give as a sitting president.  It was quite an amazing feeling to be a part of that audience.

In the audience, there were very frequent applause and yells given out by people voicing approval for President Obama.  

It is almost as if that very result is a lesson of unity which he spoke of during the address; working together will allow us to be heard.

Personally, the quote he read from the fictional Atticus Finch stood out most:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view; until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

I find this message is especially needed by society today. People seem very quick to devalue another person’s opinions or feelings simply because they are not those they personally share, have experienced or simply understand. 

If we all can learn to look at each other and actively listen, regardless of what culture, race, religion or political affiliation is on each side of the conversation, then we can begin a dialogue with a foundation of mutual respect.

This was the first event of such magnitude that I have attended. Being there definitely inspired me to take advantage of such opportunities in the future. 

Tamika Spicer-Britten
My 18-year-old daughter, Destiny Watson, saw the event on Twitter and said, “We have to go!” 

  Tamika Spicer-Britten, left, 
  and her daughter, Destiny 
  Watson, at the Obama farewell 
  speech.
(Provided photo)

I’ve never gone to an event like this before, but I am so glad I did! I wanted to go because I wanted to be a part of history; hearing the farewell speech of the United States’ first African American president is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. 

I’ve always felt that President Obama was a president for all people, regardless of race, age, economical status, political views, etc. and it was evident that night. There were so many people there. 

During my two-hour wait in line I spoke to several people who were near me. One couple was there from Atlanta and the wife said she had worked on the president’s campaign. 

One lady I spoke with was there from California along with her friend who was from Wisconsin. I even talked with a lady and her daughter who were from the Flossmoor area. 

I saw people young and old, (people of) different races and couples of different sexual orientations. It was a rainbow of people, very diverse. Everyone seem to be chatting either with people who had come with them or with strangers. The atmosphere felt very welcoming, peaceful and emotional!

Inside the room where the speech was given people were standing from wall to wall shoulder to shoulder from the front to the back. 

People were nice and accommodating. One guy who stood in front of us offered to let my daughter and me ― who are very short ― stand in front of him! I saw tears, hugs, heard laughs and applause! What I took away from the night was to take action. Get involved. Do something. Make a difference. Be relevant. Do something to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Destiny Watson
The experience leading up to the Obama farewell address was a little hectic, but also exciting at the same time! My family and I left our house at 3:30 a.m. and got downtown around 4 a.m. We got in line (for tickets) at 5 a.m. in single-digit temperatures.

I had told myself there are only a few people I would wait in this line for and President Obama was definitely one of the few. 

After waiting in line for several hours, we were finally in our seats to receive our tickets at 7:30 a.m. and walked out the doors at 9:30 a.m. with our tickets in our hand.

I remember feeling so excited and tears came to eyes as I realized I was going to be able to see President Obama in person giving his last speech. I was going to be a part of history!

Attending the speech was very bittersweet. Since I was in fifth grade Obama has been my president all the way up until my first semester college. I have essentially grown up with him being my president.

He and First Lady Michelle Obama have truly inspired me. President Obama has brought a lot of hope and inspiration to me. When he was elected, I had this sudden realization that I could truly do anything I wanted to do in the world like even becoming president. 

The night of the speech was a very emotional night for me and a lot of Americans in the room. The part of the speech that touched me the most was when Obama started to talk about the future of this upcoming generation which I just happen to fall in. It was very inspiring and definitely gave me a lot of hope knowing how much he believes in our future generation.

Destiny Watson, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate, is president of You Matter 2, a youth empowerment organization.


Editor’s note: Any time Homewood or Flossmoor residents attend or are part of historic events, the Chronicle is interested in sharing their observations and thoughts with the community. Write to [email protected].

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