'Maybe I can be President'

Inquirer staff writer Melissa Dribben reports:

A crowd of 1,000 gathered at 5th Street near Arch to witness the historic moment on a Jumbotron, in the shadow of Independence Hall.

The crowd was diverse - all races, all ages - from a 76-year-old Judiac Studies librarian to 4-year-old Anisa Pugh, the grandaughter of one of the first African-American police officers in Camden. She watched from atop her father’s shoulders alongside her brother, Maxwell, 8. Anisa wore pink sunglasses and a red knitted cap with Obama written in red, sparkly letters. Her father wore a t-shirt with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama and the words “We changed.”

Marlon Pugh, 43, a systems specialist for PECO and his wife, Anne, 44, who is white and a graphic designer, hauled the family in from Ardmore. “They didn’t want to be out in the cold,” said Anne Pugh. “But we wanted them to witness this.”

“I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime,” said Marlon Pugh, patting his son on the head. “I thought he’d see it in his lifetime.”

As a mixed race family, Obama’s election had particular resonance.

“The day after Obama was elected my son said, ‘Hey, maybe I could be President,’” said Anne.

Marlon said he vividly remembers when he was his son’s age seeing an article his father kept under glass. “The headline was ‘Pugh is a Negro,’” he said. Marlon said he did not realize at the time that his father must have been one of the first blacks on the Camden police force. His father, Bob Pugh, later became chief of the Camden police department.

As he listened to Obama take the oath of office, Marlon closed his eyes, savoring the words. “Why are people taking pictures?” his son asked.

His Dad said: “To remember this day, Max.”

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