From the Lowcountry to the inauguration: The 81-year-old's dream comes true

Editor's note: Today through Monday, The Island Packet profiles some of the Lowcountry people who are attending the inauguration.


At 81, Ida Martin is so determined to see the inauguration that her granddaughter is worried about keeping up.

If she had to, the Bluffton resident said she would ride a donkey all the way to Washington to watch Barack Obama become the nation's first black president.

And, if she had two more days to spend in the capital, she's convinced she could talk her way into a face-to-face meeting with the man she calls "my Moses."

Ida has had two knee replacements, but the prospect of hoofing it through cold weather and throngs of people hasn't fazed her.

"If it's my last walk," she said, "I'm gonna walk."

Almost immediately after Obama's victory Nov. 4, Martin knew she wanted to be in Washington on Tuesday.

She worked the polls on Election Day -- as she has for 35 years -- and watched the returns roll in with relatives in her family room on Bruin Road.

Her granddaughter, 33-year-old Mikesha Kosoko, quickly reminded her how many steps the journey would take.

Ida didn't care.

She will turn 82 on Thursday, and couldn't imagine a better early birthday present.

Her resolve doesn't surprise her granddaughter.

"That's my grandma," said Mikesha, who will be with Ida at the National Mall.

Maybe, Mikesha said, this election meant so much to Ida because of all she's seen in her life.

She attended segregated schools and graduated from the all-black Beaufort County Training School.

She was denied service at a doctor's office in Detroit in the 1950s because of her race.

She heard Martin Luther King Jr. describe his dreams.

Now, Ida said, those dreams seem to be coming true.

She suspected early in the election cycle that Obama would prevail.

After years of hearing young people of all races question why they should vote, they brought their friends to the polls this time.

That sight brought tears to her eyes.

She has followed Obama's every speech on TV.

Now, she has her walking shoes ready.

Ida knows Obama can't fix everything that ails the country, but she hopes he will dissolve some of history's hatred by uniting people behind a common cause.

She doesn't know exactly what will happen on her trip after she leaves by a tour-company bus Monday afternoon.

The plan is to drive through the night so she'll be there in time to watch the swearing-in ceremony and parade.

Her granddaughter's concerned that schedule might prove too ambitious.

Ida's certain nothing will derail her.

She's similarly optimistic about Obama's administration.

"If we join in with him and pray with him, I think it's going to turn out wonderful," she said.