Washington, DC—Flint physician, business owner and community advocate Dr. Bobby Mukkamala attended President Joe Biden’s inauguration as Congressman Dan Kildee’s personal guest and witnessed the historic moment firsthand–but he was worried. 

Congressman Dan Kildee and Dr. Bobby Mukkamala pose together for a selfie in front of the Capitol building on Inauguration Day 2021. (Courtesy Photo | Dr. Bobby Mukkamala)

“The atmosphere for everybody was a little bit tense going through the unusual security for the inauguration as well as the presence of National Guard troops, military vehicles and military weapons everywhere within the city…I myself wrote a note to my kids that went something like, ‘If I don’t come home…’”

Two weeks prior, pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to suppress the congressional Electoral Vote count that would confirm Joe Biden’s win. 

Nervousness surrounding the incident still lingered amongst crowd members at the inauguration, Mukkamala said. 

Once through security, the energy seemed to return to normal, Mukkamala said, adding that this was his first inauguration, so he had nothing to compare it to. 

He said Kildee invited him, “as a symbolic thank you to all of the healthcare workers that have sacrificed so much during this past year. It was not because of anything in particular that I have done but because of the symbolism of having a healthcare worker accompany him to this momentous occasion,” Mukkamala said. 

Soldiers man their posts on the streets outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. during Inauguration Day. 25,000 National Guard troops were deployed for the inauguration due to heightened security after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 (Courtesy Photo | Dr. Bobby Mukkamala).

Performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks were “flawless,” he said. But the real show stopper was 23-year-old poet and activist Amanda Gorman, who made history as the youngest known inaugural poet. 

“It was pin drop silence. Up to that point, a lot of people, myself included, were trying to get the perfect picture. When she started talking, I took a picture…but as I started to listen I put my phone down… It was so poetic and moving. I think that was the general mood and [it] went from being a spectator to being an active listener, instead of trying to capture the moment on a camera,” Mukkamala said. 

Popstar Lady Gaga performs the National Anthem at the 2021 Inaguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. (Courtesy video | Dr. Bobby Mukkamala).

The crowd was small due to COVID-19 regulations. Seats were placed six feet apart, except for attendees and their guests, who were allowed to sit next to one another. Mukkamala said he estimates there were less than 2,000 people in attendance.

“It was certainly fewer than a high school football game around [Flint]…The National Mall was empty,” he said.

After Biden’s speech, Mukkamala said he left feeling “hopeful,” like there were brighter days ahead. But as he boarded a train back to the airport, he looked up and saw a Trump sign in an apartment window. 

“There was just an immediate reality check about the chasm that does exist that needs to be bridged…There’s a lot of work to be done. I mean, a speech is great, but it doesn’t create the bridge. It’s just more of the marching orders for the bridge to be built,” he said. “And, so, I’m looking forward to watching that bridge being built to [close] the philosophical divide that separates a lot of people.” 


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Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...

4 replies on “‘If I don’t come home…’ Flint Dr. Bobby Mukkamala attends inauguration with caution”

  1. You would be safer anywhere but Flint. Did you sleep in a garage with the national guards or a nice hotel. What a coward!

  2. Trump had the election stolen from him by Biden… and you people of Flint glorify Biden! Wait till you are paying over $4 for gas and health insurance climbs so high for middle class while we are force to pay for illegals to get free healthcare, Flint, and the rest of this country is totally screwed. If you voted for Biden the Pedophile, you get to share the pain that he is putting on all of us.

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