Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama, the trains, and race / why it matters where Amtrak is sold out / OBAMA TRAINS INTO DC


As of earlier this afternoon the only trains today, Saturday, to Washington, DC, from points north on the Northeast Corridor (e.g., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston) were evening trains, particularly the uber-expensive Acela train.
By 5 PM, all the trains were sold out. (Sunday and Monday departures were already sold out by early this afternoon; return trips only become available again on Wednesday, aside from a red eye wee hour AM departure.)
The pattern for trains from Pittsburgh, on the Cumberland route, is that there were seats available earlier today for Saturday. Sunday and Monday are sold out. One needs to wait til Thursday for a return trip. (Return trips are sold out.)

Now, to the interesting stuff:
Tickets from seemingly all points south, on the various lines from North Carolina and Virginia, are available on several itineraries (Sunday, Monday trips; returns on a range of days).
(A little bit of an exception: The Crescent, from the trajectory from New Orleans -Atlanta, Charlotte- is sold out for Monday, but tickets are available, folks, for Sunday. Return trips on the 20th and the 21st are sold out, but the 22nd is available.)
This is the old South, remember folks? While we have Obama-mania in the Northeast, enthusiasm is cooler in the South, by this measure. A sad statement, that this is still a divided country.
Plessy vs. Ferguson was the Supreme Court decision in the 1890s, sanctioning segregation. The case was concerned with a black passenger and a railroad train. And it was not until the years between 1946 and 1950 that the Court struck down segregation on trains.
Could Obama, as an ordinary citizen, in the early 1940s, make the inauguration train itinerary to Washington, without restrictions?
So, there is additional special significance in Barack Obama's presidential inauguration and his train trip this weekend.
*CNN's interactive map of Obama's "Whistlestop tour."
*Dispatches from Candy Crowley and other CNN correspondents along the route.
*Obama had "ordinary folks" as guests, 51 guests, this included 16 families from 15 states.
*By mid-afternoon, Obama and family, and Joe Biden, arrived in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station.
(The NY Times report.)

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