Lawton_Duncan Mayor Gene Brown was hard at work as Barack Obama took the oath of office as the nation's 44th President. His regular job at a car dealership in Lawton involves selling cars most of the time, but he made sure everyone else had their televisions on so no one would miss the historic day.
Gene Brown knows what it's like to be the first African-American in a particular political position. Three years ago, he was elected the first black mayor for the City of Duncan, and recently earned another term in office after no one wanted to run against him. He says it's a day that many people talked about, but never quite expected. "When you think about your fore-parents - like my parents, grandfather, great-grandfather - what they went through...they always talked about this day," he said. "They didn't get to see it, but I had the opportunity to witness it. It's an exciting day."
Brown first ran for Duncan City Council in 1977, and says there was some opposition based on the color of his skin. But, three years ago, when he ran for Duncan Mayor, he says it was evident views had changed. "I had a great response from the community," he said. "People came out and accepted me for the contents of my character verses the color of my skin."
On Tuesday, Brown said he thinks President Obama must have felt much as he did when he was elected Mayor of Duncan. "I can imagine a sense of pride, feeling of accomplishment, probably when he first started it seemed so far, far away," said Brown. "So, accomplishing that was a great achievement for him."
Brown says he wants other African-Americans to acknowledge more than the skin color of our new President. "For the African-American community, I think it says that if you apply yourself, and prepare yourself, you can accomplish anything you set out to do," he said.
Despite the focus on race in the 2008 election, on Inauguration Day Washington was filled with millions of supporters of all races and nationalities. Brown says that was made this Inauguration so special. "Seeing that many people in Washington about a new President being sworn in, that's the great thing for our country - it was a day for America pulling together."