After Bush's second consecutive dubious win four years ago, I naively swore off politics. My goal was complete apathy -- as our civil rights continued to erode in the same slumping garbage heap as our nation's foreign and economic policies. Keeping a cynical eye on the news tickers along with a stone countenance, I vowed to remain stoic during the frenzied and highly addicting 2008 presidential campaign.
But the more informed I became through involuntary osmosis via an absolute inundation of election coverage, the more passionately I reacted. Come Election Day last November, I found my once-unaffected self among the hundreds of revelers in the spontaneous parade down State Street celebrating the victory of Barack Obama.
So, why not celebrate this step toward progress?
We have witnessed an historic power shift -- here, I am not restraining my optimism -- one worth reflection and revelry. Our eight-year mistake is finally being set out to pasture in Crawford. Well, that and an upscale Dallas neighborhood. But the most important reason Madison, like countless other places across the nation, is alive with community festivities and service events for Inauguration Day on January 20 is the new sense of hope and motivation we feel with President Obama coming into office. If possible, skip school or work and support our united community by witnessing this historic event as we recognize the next step towards better days.
King Coalition Community Inauguration Celebration at Monona Terrace
The King Coalition and several community sponsors, including the Urban League of Greater Madison and Kujichaguila-Madison Center for Self Determination, Inc., presents a community inaugural celebration beginning at 9 a.m. and running until 1 p.m. in the lecture hall at Monona Terrace. The Obama Inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. will be broadcast on a 20-foot HD television screen. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunches while Monona Terrace will provide coffee and cake. Naturally, this event is free.
Get happy hour started early!
This is Madison; the bars will be open. In honor of the inauguration, taverns are planning to open early to provide a warm environment for all the folks playing hooky from work. The Argus Bar Grille, a watering hole and lunchtime spot near the Square that had an Obama campaign office for an upstairs neighbor last fall, will open at 10 a.m. and start serving food and drinks right away.
A UW campus watch party
Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are invited to watch the inaugural proceedings on campus. Sponsored by the International Student Services, the Student Organizations Office, and the Multicultural Student Cetner, this gathering will be held in the MSC Lounge on the second floor of the Red Gym, and will run from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. Free refreshments and cookies will be provided, as will a life-size cutout of the new president for photo fun.
Inauguration for the kids
The Madison Children's Museum at the top of State Street will host a live webcast of the inaugural ceremony at 11 a.m., and announce the winners of its Polling Place exhibit election.
Tenant Resource Center & Workers Rights Center Benefit at the High Noon
"Eclectic blues-rock" band Bonobo Secret Handshake plays with "merengue-punk-new wavers" Aniv de la Rev and Ween tribute group Warm Wet Rag at the High Noon Saloon in an early evening celebration of the inaugural starting at 5:30 p.m.. There is no cover for this party, but please contribute some cash to support a pair of important local organizations: the Tenant Resource Center and the Workers' Rights Center. If you're feeling particularly cheeky, there will also be an open mic open to anyone interested in expressing their thoughts on the occasion. As an experiment, compare the number of people who reflect on the past eight years to those who look to the future.
Middleton Inaugural Party
The Middleton Area Obama Action team has organized an Inauguration celebration at Louisianne's, Etc.. This charitable event is open to all people, and casual attire is encouraged. A $5.00 donation is requested in exchange for delicious hors d'oeuvres, but the Middleton Outreach Ministry is also collecting food and personal care items in addition to money for its Food Pantry as part of their contribution to the Obama/MLK National Day of Service. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. and there will be a cash bar.
"End of an Error" Dance Party and "Unauguration" at Dobhan
Lakeside Press hosts a celebration at Dobhan next to the Barrymore with some of Madison's most prominent DJs, including Rankin' Ralph, The Real Jaguar, and Reverend Velveteen. The music will be upbeat with a political bent to help you dance away all that pent-up post-Bush aggression, and the international buffet is not to be missed. Starting at 8 p.m., this party is free, but charitable donations for the buffet will be happily accepted.
Bye-Bye Bush at Café Montmartre
DJ OCD Automatica hosts a scornful send-off to the outgoing prez in what will most likely be a very crowded, very danceable party just off the Square. The celebrations start at 8 p.m. with no cover charge!
Rockin' the Inauguration at The Frequency
The Gusto, Kildrifter, Things Fall Apart and The Transgressions provide welcome Obama to his first term of presidency with some punk fervor in this party on the opposite side of the Square. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. with a $5 cover.
The Day After Change... at The Annex
This post-inauguration celebration on Wednesday, January 21, offers a promising line-up for folks looking to extend the partying another night. Local hip-hop mindblowers Dumate headline, with 9 Delegates, A.D. of The Crest, Vilas Park Sniper, and DJ Double D also slated for the showcase. $6 gets you into the show, unless you arrive after 11 p.m., when it increases to $10.
This is merely a summary of the Inauguration Day parties and community events that will be held around Madison, their spirit inspired by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tradition of community service and ongoing support for local charities. If there are any other community events centered around the inaugural not included here, please share them in the comments.
Naturally, the Bush regime has left a foul taste in the mouths of many, including no shortage of people around Madison and far, far beyond. However, the vast majority of events around town are more focused on welcoming President Obama than castigating the lame duck. The first way to overcome our past challenges is to celebrate and promote positive change within our own community.
Let's close with a quote applicable to this very subject. "The true test of the American ideal is whether we're able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time," said the future 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, at a 2005 commencement address for Knox College. "Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them. Whether chance of birth or circumstance decides life's big winners and losers, or whether we build a community where, at the very least, everyone has a chance to work hard, get ahead, and reach their dreams."