Thursday, November 6, 2008
2008 Presidential Election: Obama wins
It's been more than 24 hours since the world received the news: Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States.
I was at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck covering the election results from a watch party in the Student Union Building.
More than 100 students filled a multi-purpose room to watch two big screen projectors showing the results coverage.
The crowd clapped when Obama was declared the winner of New Jersey.
They cheered when he won Ohio, a key swing state. They roared when he was declared the winner in Virginia.
It was almost 11 p.m. EST and the polls in California were getting ready to close.
The countdown to the polls closing began as the students screamed, "Five-four-three-two-one!"
And at that moment CNN declared Barack Obama the winner of the 2008 presidential election. At last, America has its first African-American president.
The students absolutely errupted, jumping up and down, hugging, screaming, cheering and some even crying. Others started dancing and began doing the electric slide.
Meanwhile, graduate students Ingrid Bien-Aime and Kibret Boreland wiped away tears.
"I never thought my eyes would see this. This is not for me," said Boreland, 22, referring to those leaders -- Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks -- who couldn't see the historic win. "I just played my part. I can't believe it," she said.
It was a moment many had waited for, but still couldn't fathom.
"I was waiting for them to say it was a mistake," said Bien-Aime. "I just started crying. I don't know where it came from."
Dara Jones, a senior accounting major, said this victory gives hope to the elementary student who tells his class he wants to be the president when he grows up.
"This tells people you can be anything you want to be regardless of race," said Jones, 20, of Prince George's County, Md.
I snapped a quick photo of Boreland, Jones and Jones' twin sister hugging after the results were announced. That photo was published in The Record along with the story I contributed to on the African-American reaction to the election.
It was a historic moment for the country and I covered it. Wow! They say newspapers are the first draft of history and I was delighted to have been a part of the coverage that night.
The toughest part was not getting caught up in the emotion. I kept my cool. There was no celebrating on my part. I was working. I couldn't express myself. But as a journalist, I took the opportunity to observe. I collected quotes from students. I shot photos and video of their reactions. I captured history in an instant.
I worked a double-shift that day, and although it was tough, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was up at 6 a.m. to vote and speak to voters at the polls, which were unusually crowded for that time of morning. It was apparent everyone wanted to get out early and vote.
I talked to two college students who made the trip to Teaneck from their Historically Black Colleges -- Delaware State University and Howard University -- so they could vote. And I can't blame them. I did the same thing four years ago. Although they could have done an absentee ballot, but it's just not the same feeling.
I worked at the newsroom until about 1 p.m. and took a break before I went to FDU for the watch party, which started around 7 p.m.
But during my break, I made sure I joined my mother as we took my 93-year-old grandmother to the polls to vote. She had been dressed and ready to go.
My mom texted me to tell me to get home because my grandmother was getting antsy.
My mom had already made two trips to our polling site at the American Legion in Teaneck. She voted around 7 a.m. and later took my twin brother, who was born mentally challenged, to cast his vote.
My grandmother, using the assistance of her walker, rolled into the polling location to the delight of the poll workers who were in awe of this 93-year-old voter. I must note, there was no line at 2 p.m.
She neatly signed her name and quickly hurried into the booth. She was out in seconds.
My grandmother, who grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, predicted Obama would win and she was right.
When I finally got home aroud 1 a.m, I wasn't feeling good. I felt like I was coming down with a cold. I had some orange juice and tea before hitting the bed. After all, I had to wake up the next morning for an 8 a.m. start.
I was really covering this election from start to finish and then some. But to be honest, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
WATCH OBAMA'S POST-ELECTION SPEECH:
ELECTION DAY AROUND NORTHERN NEW JERSEY:
ELECTION REACTIONS IN HACKENSACK, N.J.: