An estimated 25 Cherokee County Democratic Club members and guests gathered at Phoenix Square Deli & Coffee Shop to socialize and watch the inauguration of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Attendees applauded as Biden took the oath and during various portions of Obama's inauguration speech.
As part of the National Service Project, attendees also brought canned goods to benefit local nonprofit Helping Others Pursue Enrichment.
Marlene Jowell, with the Cherokee County Democratic Club, said the idea was to do something that would be sustainable in the community.
She estimated about 100 pounds of food would be collected.
“It's just an effort for those of us here in the county to … celebrate and renew our commitment for working for the next four years,” Cherokee County Democratic Club President John Ross said as residents watched the inauguration behind him.
He said he thinks it's interesting that the inauguration and holiday took place together this year, and in some ways it represents the fulfillment of King's dream.
When asked what people should take away from the circumstance, he said he hopes they realize that in politics people must respect the opinions of opponents and work with them to accomplish goals that will help the country move forward.
In Cherokee County, he said he wants people to have a choice in elections and for the Democratic Party to keep going.
“I just look forward to a very positive four years of accomplishments for the country,” Ross said.
Community volunteer Lula Hinton said for her, the day is “almost like a two-fold historical commemoration of what has happened in the lives of not just Americans but African-Americans.”
“We are celebrating two historical events today, of course, the legacy of Martin Luther King (Jr.), and the second inauguration of President Barack Obama — something many of us never thought we'd see happen in our lives. So it's almost an honor to just gather and see fellow citizens share in such a momentous occasion,” Ms. Hinton said.
She also agreed with Ross, saying that King, through his marches, speeches and activism, in a way, set the stage for what is happening now.
“I don't think this would be happening today because it was not just African- Americans that helped elect the president — it was all segments of society,” she said.
Overall, she said Monday's events were simply “one of the greatest events of my life.”
“I never thought I would live to see this, especially the second time around. There's that old saying, 'Love is lovelier the second time around,' but this is even better,” Ms. Hinton said.
Club member Kathy Moak said she was honored to be there and was glad that people could listen to Obama first-hand and form their own opinion.
After Obama's inauguration speech, some attendees headed outside to cheer and wave the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march, which started at the Norman Activity Center and ended at Sweet Union Baptist Church.
Marchers and other community members then filed into the church for a holiday program featuring praise dances, singing, scripture, prayer and speeches.
King's account of his near fatal stab also wound was read.
During his speech, the Rev. Kenneth Cain, with Benson Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, encouraged everyone to stand together, saying “united we stand, divided we fall.”
Program organizer A.J. Rhodes said Monday's march and program was started by a unity committee to give young children something positive to do on the holiday.
“Today is a day we celebrate Martin Luther King, and we are doing just that — giving homage to his legacy,” Rhodes said outside the church.
For Jacksonville resident Marlo Davidson, the day was “a day to celebrate because of freedom.”
“It's just a special day. It means a lot to everybody,” she said.
La Quinda Simpson, who sang Monday, added, “He (King) did a lot for us. We have rights. We should take time out (to celebrate those who've) done for us.”