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Springfield Civil Rights Pioneer Reflects On Obama's Inauguration

The inauguration of Barack Obama marked a milestone in the racial history of the United States. Just after the inauguration, KSMU’s Jennifer Moore sat down with one local man who says he never thought he would live to see an African American hold the country’s highest office.

Denny Whayne said he never understood segregation: in grade school, he said the pledge of allegiance, which ended with the phrase, "with justice for all." He was thrown out of a donut shop on his way to school as a black child for using the front door, and was spat upon while picketing in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He watched the inauguration of Barack Obama at his nephew's house, and said that it was very emotional for him. He said that it is a day for all Americans, not just those of a particular skin color.

Whayne rode on the same "Freedom Train" that Barack Obama rode from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. last weekend. Whayne's journey on the same train was in 1961 as an eleven-year-old boy. He was a participant in the NAACP Convention, and rode the train to Washington, D.C. for a civil rights march.