President Obama is no stranger to large crowds.
His first inauguration back in 2009 drew an estimated 1.8 million people to the National Mall. Both his ’08 and ’12 campaigns for president routinely drew thousands of supporters at rallies.
Two Spelman College graduates and former roommates are hoping to send him off in similar style.
Bejidé Davis and Amanda Washington Lockett are planning an event titled “Thanks, Obama” to take place on the last official day of Obama’s presidency — Thursday, January 19.
The Facebook page for the event has 38,000 RSVPs and some 110,000 others interested in possibly attending. The idea for the event is simple: Get together and give President Obama a standing ovation and celebrate his 8 years in office.
Lockett spent time as a graduate intern with the White House on initiatives related to HBCUs and improving African-American performance in the classroom. Davis is a political buff and attorney.
Davis told theGrio.com in an interview that she came up with the idea for the event during a conversation about politics with her brother.
“I said you know what — no matter what happens, people are going to miss Obama,” Davis said. “But no matter who wins, no matter who comes out of it, people are going to miss President Obama, and I think it’s going to take getting new people in to get to see how great everyone had it.”
Davis first posted the event’s page on Facebook back in July — the same night President Obama delivered a soaring endorsement of Hillary Clinton‘s bid for the presidency at the Democratic National Convention.
The next day, 500 people had RSVP’d.
“We need to show him how much he means to us and how great a job he’s done, because it is a thankless job,” Davis said. “And he faced so much intense scrutiny, discrimination, just flat-out disrespect during his entire presidency.”
There was already great interest in the event before last week’s election results. When Trump emerged victorious, however, the interest increased substantially.
“After the election results, I’d say there have been 10,000 more people interested,” Washington Lockett said.
In total, there’s a team of nine people organizing the event who are still working out the details.
Originally, the plan was to stand outside the White House gate and clap. But now — given the event’s exploding popularity — the team has run into some permit issues. Organizers are currently searching for a venue large enough to accommodate the potential crowd and sponsors as well.
“There are several people invested and excited, but the space in D.C. is so limited because its inauguration weekend,” Washington Lockett said.
“I really do think that it will take him leaving the White House, him and his entire family, frankly, for people to really look back and appreciate him,” Davis said.
The contact information for Amanda Washington Lockett and Bejidé Davis can be found here.
Ashantai Hathaway is a reporter at theGrio. Keep up with her on Twitter @ashantaih83