by Max Brantley
Report from David Koon, riding with the M.L. King Commission to the Obama inaugural:
BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA — A bus at night is no place to be — black hallway where the minutes shuffle, punctuated by the pained little noises of sleepers and the turbo wine of the big diesel engine out back. There is nothing to see — nothing to report — other than the occasional spray of city lights, or cars swimming dreamily into and out of the glare from the running lamps of the bus. Dawn, however, finds us in Virginia, a fair country of rolling hills, dozing under snow. It looks like heaven.
We loaded the six buses at 5 p.m. yesterday, were gone by 6. We have driven straight through to here, other than two brief, sleepy layovers in pitch-black rest stops, where rigs dozed and grumbled alongside our buses in the dark. We are all backsore, necksore. I have spent the past 12 hours crammed into the very last seat of the very last bus — bus #6. I had a pair of seats to myself for awhile and sprawled like a rajah, but we picked up more passengers in Forrest City, and since then I have been pressed in closer than I ever wanted to be to Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson. He and I will be sick of one another by the time our feet are back in Little Rock, that's for sure.
My traveling companions — most of them black, some old enough to require a cane, others young enough that they're clearly skipping elementary school to take this trip — are as tired of traveling as we are, as sick of junk food as we are. But this is the burden they have accepted in order to stand on the doorstep of history; to — as one of them told me yesterday — breathe the same air as Barack Obama on the day he becomes America's first black two-term president.
We are getting close now. We are going to see it happen. We are going to see The Man.