Tears flow as Obama speaks

Abdus Shakur, 43, and Chris Javier Rivere, 19, watch the inaugural festivities at Millennium Cuts in Atlantic City.

Inquirer staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg reports from Atlantic City:

Aretha got them first. Inside Millenium Cuts on Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City, where the inauguration was on two screens, front and back of the store, it was the big-bow-hatted queen of soul who got the tears flowing. Abdus Shakur, 43, who had come in from his outdoor stand of cd's to watch, just shook his head as he sat rapt with a few others on folding chairs and tears welled up and then overflowed.

There could be no describing. Just knowing looks exchanged through tear-filled eyes.

"You have no idea what we're feeling right now," he scolded to 19-year-old Chris Javier Rivere, who also sat rapt but who had engaged in a little Christian versus Muslim banter moments before that did not go over so well. The world was complicated, before and after.

The muted emotions gave way to euphoria midway through Obama's speech, as the new president spoke about America's new standing in the world. "Strong words right there," shouted Rennie Hunter, as he finished up a cut.

"And he's freestyling it too," another person said, as it looked to them like Obama was speaking from memory.

"It might be from the heart," Hunter said.

When Obama was done, Hunter said, "Well all right, don't it just feel good? Don't you got chills through your body?"

And then, looking over at 2-year-old Issan, in for a haircut, he delivered his own speech, inspired right then and there, freestyling for sure. "We as a people come together, and unite as one," the barber said. looking over at the puzzled boy. "This is the United States of America, the land of the free."

He paused. "I'm trying to get my speech together ... so I can be mayor of Atlantic City," he quipped, sort of joking, but maybe not, marveling at the changed state of the union. "I feel so good inside."

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