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History prof attending Obama inauguration

1/20/2009
For several years, Dr. Minoa Uffelman has taught history at Austin Peay State University, sharing stories and research with her students as though she had been an intricate part of those historical moments.

But today, Uffelman will be able to say that she witnessed a monumental event, one that will signify history in the making. She and her 15-year-old nephew, Chas Uffelman, of Houston County, are in Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama as the 44th president of the U.S.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “It's just an amazing event. I was overwhelmed with emotion when he was elected.”

At APSU, Uffelman teaches Southern history, including lessons about black disfranchisement, Jim Crow laws and racism in the South.

“When you think about it, Obama was elected in a relatively short period of time since the Jim Crow laws,” she said. “To have an African-American president is something I never thought I'd see.”

Uffelman's nephew received two tickets guaranteeing entry to the inauguration from Tennessee's U.S. Rep. John Tanner after campaigning for Obama in 2008. Because of his aunt's love for history, Chas Uffelman asked her to attend with him.

“It's an honor that he asked me,” she said.

Uffelman said she would incorporate her experiences from the inauguration into future course lessons. She added that the APSU Department of History is supportive of her attending the swearing-in ceremony.

“They are covering my classes and are enthusiastic about my going,” she said. “This is a collaborative effort.”

In addition to Uffelman, others from APSU are attending the inauguration.
Student Affairs and the African American Cultural Center coordinated an opportunity for APSU faculty, staff and students to see Obama sworn in as the country's next president. -- Melony Shemberger