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.