Edison Middle School teacher Matt McAfee, right, speaks to the 51 students he is accompanying to Washington D.C. to see President-Elect Donald Trump be inaugurated. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Edison Middle School American History Teacher Matt McAfee knows that on Friday he’s going to have to convince 51 teenagers to wake up from their hotel by 5 a.m. if they’re going to make it to the nation’s capital in time to get a spot to view the inauguration.

And once they’re there, he’s got to convince them to walk about three miles to their destination, an area where they hope they’ll be able to see Donald Trump be inaugurated.

“They’re going to get to see most of the major sites, but they really get the opportunity to witness history happening,” McAfee said earlier this week before the group departed for the nation’s capital. “The kids who were going on this trip did not know who was going to be president, and they signed up for it because they wanted to see it live.”

The students on the trip are primarily made up of McAfee’s eighth-grade class from this year, as well as some ninth-graders who were in his class a year ago. They signed up for the trip during the primaries, when contenders on both sides of the aisle were fighting to be nominated. They left Tulsa on Wednesday and flew to St. Louis where they took a connecting flight to their destination.

Two of the students on the trip, ninth-graders Karli Campbell and Scotlin Ledgerwood, had different predictions prior to last November’s election. Ledgerwood felt like democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would prevail, while Campbell said she predicted a Trump victory.

They said the trip inspired them to follow the election process for the first time, as they held watch parties for the debates and closely monitored election night.


Scotlin Ledgerwood, left, and Karli Campbell, right. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

“I definitely followed it more,” Ledgerwood said. “We would watch it live instead of where normally I might have just watched the highlights.”

The debates provided the two of them with more entertainment than they anticipated.

“It was surprising the amount of shade they threw at each other,” Campbell said. “I was like ‘Wow, this is getting serious.’ I didn’t know they would act like that.”

Ledgerwood said although she doesn’t consider herself a Trump supporter, she was taught to “respect the office,” and so she’ll view the inauguration with an open mind.

“It’s about seeing the process for me,” she said.

McAfee said several of the students had a mood change following Trump’s election night victory.

“That’s reasonable, ” he said. “(But) most everyone is there for the experience and not a particular candidate.”

As for what he thinks his students will see Friday, he said “probably a little bit of everything.”

“I don’t think we can make any predictions on this, we’re going to get a unique experience,” he said. “I went in 2009 to see Barack Obama be inaugurated for the first time, and it was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever seen.

“It is quite the experience. They’re going to get to see a lot of people who are excited about being Americans, who are excited to see their next president be inaugurated.”

‘It’s one of the things that makes this country great’
When Trump came to Tulsa last year for a stop at Oral Roberts University, local attorney Kevin Adams was actually part of the “driving staff” who made sure everyone in the campaign – Trump included – made it to the Mabee Center.

But Adams never actually saw Trump. As part of the driving staff, Adams, who counts himself as one of Trump’s many energetic supporters, was required to stay outside and didn’t get to see the businessman speak.

“When you’re driving staff, you have to stay with the vehicle,” Adams said. “So I basically sat there and waited.”


Tulsa attorney Kevin Adams. Courtesy

Adams said that during the primaries he promised his two oldest daughters, ages 13 and 11, that if Trump won, they would all travel to see the inauguration together. So on Friday they, along with his 19-month old (who didn’t need a plane ticket but did need an inauguration ticket), will watch Trump take the Oath of Office.

“We just want them to see it, to see the peaceful transition of power,” Adams said. “It’s one of the things that makes this country great.”

Adams, who lives with his family in Verdigris, said he and his wife made the decision to raise their daughters in a calm, quiet community, but to make sure they had outside life experiences to draw from later.

“The (oldest daughter) has been to D.C. before, she went last year on some leadership thing,” Adams said. “The 11-year-old hasn’t been and I haven’t been in a long time, either. For the 19-month old, she’ll be able to look at pictures and know she was there and that she saw it, that will be cool for her later.

“Who knows what (being there) might inspire a kid to do.”

‘I don’t think we’ll let something like that happen again’
Kerrie Harlin hopped a Lawrence, Kan., bus on Wednesday to head to Washington D.C., not to see Trump’s inauguration, but to take part in Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.

Harlin was actually a Bernie Sanders supporter during the democratic primary but quickly switched her allegiance to Clinton during the general election. She, like many people and pollsters, thought Clinton would emerge victorious.

But unlike most people, Harlin, who spent more than 12 hours on election day volunteering at a polling place, wasn’t able to follow along as the votes rolled in that night.

“I’d heard rumors that he was winning or was going to win, but I couldn’t really believe it and I was so tired I didn’t want to deal with it,” she said. “I basically worked from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and just got home and went to bed. I was exhausted. So I didn’t really find out Trump won until the next morning.

“I wasn’t too excited.”

Kerrie Harlin. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Kerrie Harlin. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Harlin expects to be one of about 200,000 people in Saturday’s march, which bills itself not as a protest, but as a way to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups.”

“I expect to see people there who are engaged in the political process,” she said. “People who are not necessarily enraged, but are really angry at what’s going on. People who want to say ‘this isn’t right, what’s been going on for the last year isn’t right.’ I’m talking about not just women’s rights, but LGBTQ rights and rights for the disabled and all these other groups who’ve been disparaged.

“It’s time for us to stop being the silent majority and become the vocal majority.”

Harlin said she expects that Trump’s election will spur those on the left side of the aisle to become more active “politically and socially.”

“There’s going to be more people watching (Trump) like a hawk,” she said. “More people watching who he puts in his cabinet. Because we’re looking at each other and saying how did someone like this, someone who is just a celebrity and that’s it, how did he get the most powerful position in the world? I don’t think we’ll let something like that happen again.”

‘I think we made quite a choice for president’
It’s safe to say local attorney Gary Richardson is one of Trump’s more enthusiastic fans.

“The first time I saw Trump on TV, I told my wife, ‘That’s my candidate,’” Richardson said. “My wife is so excited she can hardly sit still.

“I think we made quite a choice for president.”

Richardson was appointed to be United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan and Trump have been compared to each other at times, since Reagan was also a celebrity before he became a politician.

Attorney Gary Richardson is excited to travel and see President-Elect Donald Trump be inaugurated later this month. "I saw him on TV and I said 'That's my guy.'" DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Attorney Gary Richardson is excited to travel and see President-Elect Donald Trump be inaugurated later this month. “I saw him on TV and I said ‘That’s my guy.'” DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

“I think Trump will do what Reagan did,” Richardson said. “Reagan was asked how he thought he could do some good in Washington if the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats. He said that he was going to do what he did when he was governor of California. He said he would propose legislation he thought was good for America, and if he had a senator or a congressman who didn’t support it, he would go to their district and tell the voters there to vote them out of office.”

Richardson said although he doesn’t agree with everything Trump says, he does think the president-elect believes what he says.

“To me, his whole campaign was do you want a republic or do you want socialism,” Richardson said. “I’m very excited about where this country is headed compared to where I believe it’s been headed for some time.”

Seventy-five-year-old Richardson has written several books during his long career and one titled “Black Robe Fever” sits on a table that greets visitors who enter his rustic south Tulsa office.

“That book is about some federal judges I tangled with,” he said. “I tussled with this judge who threatened me with contempt of court eight times. He threatened to put me in prison, and I told him I was more than willing to go. That client was looking at 84 years (in prison) and I walked him out of there, innocent. If I had listened to that judge that wouldn’t have happened.

“The premise (of the book) is basically that all cowards seek positions of power, because the more power they have, the safer they feel. Then they get to be in power and they become a bully.”