Chicagoans leave for inauguration

January 16, 2009 8:56:57 AM PST
The guest list includes thousands of people from the Chicago area. And a Chicago company is responsible for planning and pulling off some of the official inauguration events. It's a huge honor for a company called Event Architects. It was tapped just three-and-a-half weeks ago to produce several events for the inauguration, so everyone at the firm has been putting in a lot of overtime.

Attending the ceremony will also be a huge honor for two local pioneers.

Professor Timuel Black organized Chicagoans to march on Washington and hear Dr.Martin Luther King, Junior deliver his 'I have a dream" speech in 1963.

Quentin Smith of Gary, Indiana is one of about 300 surviving members of the first all-black World War Two squadron -- the Tuskegee Airmen.

Black's a Democrat. Smith's a Republican. Both are 90-years-old. And both expect to have the time of their lives witnessing Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington.

"We had a dream but in our lifetime we never thought the dream would be realized and so this is a momentous period of my life history," said Black.

When Barack Obama came to Chicago in 1991, wanting to become a community organizer, whose advice did he seek out? It was Professor Black, who now, along with his wife Zenobia, will be Senator Dick Durbin's guests at the inauguration.

"That dream, very few of us had the feeling of that kind of dream being personified by a person of color," said Black.

Although Quentin Smith is a staunch Republican, his party is paying his airfare so he can join his fellow airmen in the front row for the ceremony.

"I think it is one of the greatest things that has happened in my lifetime," said Smith, Tuskegee Airmen.

And it's a great thing for a Chicago company, Event Architects, the only Chicago firm tapped to produce official inauguration events.

"It's a very clean look, and that reflects the President-Elect and his campaign," said Fergus Rooney, CEO, Events Architects.

Events architects produced many events for the Obama presidential campaign over the past two-and a half years. That gave it the inside track to landing this important gig.