CBS: Obama Inauguration Gives Hope to Less Fortunate

Thalia Assuras, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Thalia Assuras reported on a down-trodden family who had their spirits lifted by an invitation to the Obama Inauguration: "...struggling Americans like Telisha and Kenny Brown...Unable to pay their rent, they turned to an interfaith shelter for families, with their boys, Donovan, 12, and Dylan, 9. They had planned to celebrate the inauguration in their tiny apartment...But now the Browns will have a front-row view to history. Here in Washington, D.C."

Assuras went on to explain that: "They'll be part of a glittering fantasy world, thanks to a dream realized by Virginia millionaire, Earl Stafford...Months before the election, Earl had a spiritual inspiration to bring those less fortunate to the inauguration, no matter what the cost." In the report, Stafford exclaimed: "It was providential, I was inspired by the Lord to do this." Assuras described how: "Stafford bought a million dollar hotel package of rooms, food, and an inaugural ball, to accommodate homeless people, wounded veterans, the terminally ill, and others selected by social service organizations, at least 300 rubbing shoulders with dignitaries."

Near the end of the segment, Assuras asked 12-year-old Donovan Brown: "Is it special because it's Barack Obama?" The boy replied: "Yes." Assuras concluded her report by declaring: "For this family, January 20th offers something new...Hope for a brighter future." The camera then focused in on a 2009 Obama calender in the Brown’s apartment.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

8:16AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: This morning in our series, 'Road to Inauguration,' we meet a man from Virginia who's helping more than 300 people witness history on January 20th. CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras has the story.

THALIA ASSURAS: Inaugurations are marked by glamor and glitz, power and money coming together. It's a world far removed from the reality of struggling Americans like Telisha and Kenny Brown.

KENNY BROWN: It was like, maybe, one step away from actually being on the streets and no where to go.

ASSURAS: Telisha works in a book store in Atlanta, Georgia, but Kenny, a chef, was laid off several times last year. Unable to pay their rent, they turned to an interfaith shelter for families, with their boys, Donovan, 12, and Dylan, 9. They had planned to celebrate the inauguration in their tiny apartment.

KENNY BROWN: It's history in itself, I mean, first black president. I mean, anybody can do whatever they want to do in life.

ASSURAS: But now the Browns will have a front-row view to history. Here in Washington, D.C.

TELISHA BROWN: I am like -- I'm ecstatic, shaking.

ASSURAS: They'll be part of a glittering fantasy world, thanks to a dream realized by Virginia millionaire, Earl Stafford.

EARL STAFFORD: It was providential, I was inspired by the Lord to do this.

ASSURAS: Months before the election, Earl had a spiritual inspiration to bring those less fortunate to the inauguration, no matter what the cost.

STAFFORD: At first I choked on a million dollars.

ASSURAS: Stafford bought a million dollar hotel package of rooms, food, and an inaugural ball, to accommodate homeless people, wounded veterans, the terminally ill, and others selected by social service organizations, at least 300 rubbing shoulders with dignitaries.

STAFFORD: That's what this is really about, that somehow that we become aware that we are, in fact, our brother's keeper.

ASSURAS: The inaugural parade will come along here on Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of the hotel where these families will be staying. So the Browns will be right up there with one of the best views in town.

STAFFORD: There's not a bad seat in the house.

ASSURAS: They'll watch the parade from the hotel's roof top terrace.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We want it to look like a boutique.

ASSURAS: They'll also be decked out in donated gowns and tuxes for their own inaugural ball, the people's inaugural ball.

TELISHA BROWN: I know I'm getting fitted for a gown on Sunday and I'm getting my hair and makeup done and a manicure and a pedicure, and I'm very excited about that. Like 'Ooh, I'm a queen, I'm a princess, Yay.'

ASSURAS: Is it special because it's Barack Obama?

DONOVAN BROWN: Yes.

ASSURAS: Why?

DONOVAN BROWN: Because he's the first African-American president.

Obama Calender, CBS ASSURAS: [Smiling and Nodding] Mm-hmn. For this family, January 20th offers something new.

TELISHA BROWN: Last year was not good and I couldn't wait for it to be over, and now it's like, 'okay, maybe that was just the storm and we're good now.'

ASSURAS: Hope for a brighter future [Camera focuses on Obama 2009 calender]. Thalia Assuras, CBS News, Washington.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC