People's Ball by Radhika Chalasani

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - JANUARY 20: Ben Cox, one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who rode buses across the South to protest segregation, gets dressed January 20, 2009 with U.S. Army Chief Alonzo Tate's help to attend the People's Inaugural Ball celebrating Barack Obama becoming President of the U.S. Cox was invited from Memphis, Tennessee to Washington by Virginia businessman Earl W. Stafford and his non-profit foundation,  who together paid $1.6 million USD, so those who wouldn't normally have an opportunity to participate in the festivities would get a chance to celebrate. With the  help of non-profits and social service groups nationwide, including the National Urban League, some 300 people, among them the homeless, unemployed, war veterans, and those who have worked to help the less fortunate were brought to Washington D.C. to attend a specially organized ball, all-expenses paid at the JW Marriott  Hotel, a luxury  hotel near the White House.