It's Inauguration week here in Saint Paul, and it's been a great week to welcome our 46th mayor — and our first mayor of color — my long-term (if not close) friend, Melvin Carter!
As my friend Katie noted last night "Saint Paul has not had an inauguration in so long that I love that we've just taken the chance to make up what we want it to be." And she was right — it was a whirlwind week of coffee shop meet and greets, painting community mural, a swearing-in at Central High School, and an inaugural ball at Union Depot last night (where Melvin's grandfather served as a Red Cap porter yard ago). Apparently, a solemn and quiet swearing-in (like Minneapolis just had) is much more the norm. But I have to say I loved the energy and involvement of tis series of events.
When I stopped in to Coffee Bene for a meet and greet yesterday, the place was packed, and Melvin was talking, and listening, to a lot of people.
And last night, I guess we were lucky to even get in to the ball. Apparently it filled up fast, and lines (for everything from the coat check to the bar and then soon to get in when the space got filled to capacity) were epic. It seemed everyone wanted to celebrate this, and with good reason. When Melvin came to speak, the two 9-year-olds that I was lucky enough to be with made a bee-line to the front to see, so I got a pretty magical view.
You see, for Beatrix, she gets that there is *some* historical significance to having our first black president, and now a little behind, our first black mayor, in her lifetime. But honestly, to her it's really No Big Deal. Of course that's the way things happen. Why should your color, or who you love, or disability, or other factors, matter in anything? (Though I'll still point out that she has yet to see a woman in either of those offices, or as our governor. We've still got a long way to go).
But all in all, last night was not a night to think about that. Last night was a night to celebrate, and that we did. Melvin Carter truly brought the funk back to Saint Paul, and I was SO happy to be there. Congratulations, Mayor Melvin!