Our nation’s capital, a city surveyed in the early 1790s by a team that included a Black astronomer, knows how to handle a crowd.
Most of us have seen the now historic images of the 1965 March Against the Vietnam War and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed and inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The federal territory named District of Columbia to honor explorer Christopher Columbus hosted countless protests, rallies and celebrations before and after those.
Supporters in red Make America Great Again hats flocked to Washington, D.C. in 2017 to see Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.
The following day, a mass of women and their supporters, many wearing knitted pink caps symbolizing the female organ Trump professed to grab ‘em by, marched through Washington’s streets.
On both days, Trump supporters and opponents chanted, carried banners and cried out for their idea of justice. Skirmishes occurred, but Washington handled it.
I was there among them to capture the story.
I was there four and eight years before that to witness Barack Obama’s ascension from United States senator to United States president. We do not want a king — we kicked out England’s king ― but “ascension” is the correct word.
The presidency, like Washington, the Supreme Court, Capitol and the White House itself, is filled with more meaning than one man or woman can hold.
A person is president, but the office is more than the person.
The president is us to the world and us to each other. The office, regardless of the person given the honor to hold it, should be held in reverence.
Our nation’s peaceful transition of power is more American than apple pie.
It dates back to 1797 when George Washington turned over control to John Adams.
The temporary siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6 means the transition will not be marked with the parade, peaceful protest, pomp and circumstance the moment deserves. A historical event — the election of our nation’s first female vice president — will be cheated out of the spotlight it deserves.
I remember holding my breath when Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama got out of their limousine on Pennsylvania Avenue to walk part of the parade route on Inauguration Day 2013.
There were fears before and after that moment that this nation’s first Black president would be assassinated like the one who “freed” the slaves.
I thought of that moment on Jan. 6 when I saw Trump supporters march down that same avenue.
Hoping to stop the transition of power, some carried the Confederate Flag, this nation’s undying symbol of oppression despite Lincoln’s victory in the Civil War, into what should be our most cherished temples of democracy.
That day, 156 years after the end of the Civil War, the flag of the defeated and disgraced finally flew inside of our Capitol.
Its presence desecrated democracy.
Protesters and supporters will not be at the National Mall when Joe Biden becomes the next keeper of the presidency on Wednesday.
There are of course fears of more domestic terrorism, so chances are slim that he will take the walk down Pennsylvania Avenue like Presidents Trump and Obama and most of his predecessors.
Snipers will be on top of buildings, as usual for such occasions, but no massive crowds to wave at if he and his wife do walk.
It is a tragedy that Washington cannot be made safe enough to handle the crowd.
Columnist Amelia Robinson is this newspaper’s community impact editor.