Many celebrate Obama’s landmark win

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It wasn’t a black thing Tuesday night. It wasn’t a white thing either. It was American.

But there’s no doubt Barack Obama’s presidential victory was a defining moment in black history.

Mere moments after Obama was declared America’s first black president, thousands of supporters rallied together on University Avenue in Troy, even causing local law enforcement to block off roads.

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“It’s amazing. There are people hugging, crying, chanting,” said Sheri Brooks, who joined the crowd in celebrating Obama’s victory. “Tonight I see the America I gave 20 percent of my life to (as a military veteran).”

While many of those in the crowd may have been strangers before Tuesday, that all changed in one unifying moment.

“We were reacting to a once in a lifetime moment,” said Dominic Dale, political action chairman of the state NAACP youth division. “It was very united, and we just all saw better days for our country.”

A day after the election, some Troy residents were still celebrating Obama’s historic victory.

As Jatties Ahen, Willene Calhoun and Veronica Pickett sat on their front porch Wednesday morning, they could be heard cheering for the new president.

“Change is going to come,” Calhoun said. “And it’s coming, too,” added Ahen, as the three raised their hands in celebration.

And once they got talking, it was clear they had found something in Obama they’d been missing — hope.

“Jobs are awful, and I really hope he can do something with that,” Pickett said.

“Maybe people’s brothers, sons and husbands can come home now,” Calhoun added.

Many local black voters said Obama’s race wasn’t the reason they backed him in the polls, but they said it means a lot for their race.

“How can you not be excited?” said Shanay Thomas. “We seized the gap that’s been broken for so long.”

Others, too, said they felt especially proud of their race Wednesday morning.

“I went to school with my head held high, my Obama pin on and my patriotic colors,” said NAACP Vice President Lionel Rice. “I felt proud to be an African American, had a sense of accomplishment and the atmosphere has inspired me to do better.”

Rice, who has worked hard to gain support for Obama’s campaign in Alabama, said the win was a surreal moment.

“One minute we were relaxing, eating, drinking, and the next thing we know breaking news said Barack Obama is president,” Rice said. “All the canvassing and getting people to register to vote had not been in vain.”

Obama supporters regardless race said his win has been historic for all races.

“I wouldn’t want to view it as an election that only affects a certain race of people. We have elected someone who will show diversity,” said Erin Warde, who voted for the first time Tuesday. And even some who didn’t support Obama in the polls are taking pride in this election.

“I mostly supported McCain because of his experience, but I’m kind of excited about Obama’s win,” said Lamar Bowers. “He is bringing unity, and this is how America was meant to be.”