Historic, Unprecedented Change

Tonight the United States elected the first African American  president, and with it voted for historic, unprecedented change.  It is a remarkable moment.   I was in Harlem when the news broadcast on the jumbotron announced that Barack Obama was the 44th President.  It’s difficult to find the words to convey the exhiliration and joy at this news (image: mine).  The streets of Harlem were like Mardi Gras, people openly wept, danced and embraced strangers (including me).   Cars passing on the street honked their horns as drivers shouted “O-bam-a!” out the window.   Here’s Adam Nagourney’s take on the election tonight writing for the New York Times’ :

Mr. Obama’s election amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country. But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.

Unthinkable indeed, and I think you could see that on any number of faces, including Jesse Jackson’s as he – and many others of us – wept at the realization of Obama’s achievement.  And, Nagourney gets it right when he calls it a “strikingly symbolic moment” in the “nation’s fraught racial history.”    My hope tonight is that this marks the beginning of a new era.


  1. Dr. Kate Parks

    Well said Jessie. My friends and I in Iowa watched with hope and tears of joy as well. We still have much work to do, but what an amazing time in our country! Let us all hope that this landslide victory truly is the beginning of something great in this nation.

  2. Brittany

    I am still in unbelievable shock and my brain is still having trouble wrapping around this. When ten o’clock hit and MSNBC announced that Barack Obama was the next president, I immediately called my mother. When she answered the phone I didn’t say hello, I just screamed, and screamed, and screamed, in joy and amazement!

  3. Jessie Author

    Hi Kate, Hannah, Brittany ~ I am still in shock as well. I missed really hearing both speeches last night (McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s acceptance speech), so just found them online. I can hardly believe it, just amazing!

  4. Jessie Author

    Hey Dave ~ glad I could share that moment here. It was something else. Thanks for the link drop. I saw that WSJ piece and noted it for a future post. I’ll consider shutting down the blog when they shut down the school-to-prison pipeline. I’m not sure Joe would go along with it though.

  5. Nicely stated…. Oakland was amazing as well. We spent part of our evening celebrating with three generations – folks in their seventies to kids a few months old.

    We wept, cheered and laughed. Then we all honored Howard as the elder who fought for his rights and those of others to vote safely and then we honored the children whose first consciousness of a president will be a man who looks like them.

    We acknowledged there is much to do – but spent the rest of the night celebrating and marveling at the possibility and evidence of change.

    So while I wish I could have been in Harlem – it was with joy I finally fell asleep to the sounds of my neighbors celebrating on the streets. And each time on of the kids awoke due to horns honking, fireworks or shouts – I said, “you won’t remember, but this night is for you”.

  6. Jessie Author

    Oh, thanks Zombie Mom – you got me crying again! I thought about those two little ones a lot last night, and all day today, too. We got a copy of the New York Times today just for them.


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