Sunday, January 18, 2009

San Francisco/Oakland bus going to Washington finds a lot of goodwill and relatives in Nashville

(Photos by Tim Chavez)

NASHVILLE -- The businessman returning to Atlanta after staying the night at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel saw a bus of strangers and came over to it like it carried lifelong friends.

A Bay area bus carrying 65 people to the Obama inauguration in Washington, D.C., pulled into the parking lot this morning and found a lot of relatives and friends waiting to hug and take pictures.

And the Atlanta businessman. Each evening during the presidential campaign, he turned over his office to Obama campaign volunteers. On his own, he always carried an Obama sign in his car to hold up to other drivers.

This Tuesday is just as important to him as the bus riders.

Sadly, Nashville's news media could not find the time to be on hand for this historic and incredibly heartwarming event, but the media here have mostly never has been able to tell what stories reach to the values and souls of Tennesseans.

This one did, in an incredibly coming together of people, including those incredible human beings on the bus from Berkeley, Marin County, Oakland and San Francisco, making their way through this nation. Three passengers were Nashville natives. Others had Nashville relatives. It was a homecoming of truly wonderful proportions.

James Pye, an concert organizer for The Coasters and many memorable groups for the past 50 years, got off the bus with his cane. Although he is 73 with various maladies and a pacemaker, he was eager for the day here and the days to come. He met his brother, who is an official in the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Pye is the Ossie Davis character of the Spike Lee classic "Get on the Bus", a story about a cross country trip to Washington, D.C., for the Million Man March. The movie told of the diversity of experiences behind being a black male in America. The late, great Davis delivered a bravado performance. And his words at the funeral of Malcom X remain one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.

Local cars kept pulling up with excited relatives piling out and hugging loved ones. The passengers gathered in front of the "Rollin' into History" bus tour to tape a message for ABC-TV's Good Morning America:

"Where are we going?

"Washington, D.C.!

"What are we doin'?

"Rollin' into history!"

"Good Morning, America!"

WRKN, the ABC affiliate here, might have wanted to at least make it out to the story, which transpired at what I guess is too early of an hour for Nashville's media -- 8 a.m. Or perhaps the story was too hopeful and positive.

But the Bay Area media was ably represented and even was helping to defray costs of the trip. The Post Newspaper Group based in Oakland and photo journalist Kevin Jefferson and The Globe Newspaper Group and journalist Aqueila Lewis of San Leandro are on board along with German radio. They recognize a story even if Nashville's media does not.

When a bus stops, it is difficult to get everyone back on board. But the bus finally got going at 9 a.m., after finishing the most inspiring inauguration event I've been to so far. The Rev. Enoch Fuzz, primary organizer behind the Music City USA Inaugural Ball here Tuesday night, prayed over the passengers for a safe journey.

God was there, and now He is traveling to Washington, D.C., for a historic event and a rebirth of goodwill across this nation.

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