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.





Ira said...

This is great for history to see such an advancement of equality and achievement for the very country built upon these principles. "All men are created equal", means much more when the treatment of all men is eximplified and magnified from the top of society instead of such prejudices that are placed in teh socio-economic ladder. I am proud of my country more than African Americans or minorities. I am glad that Bush and the politics of old have placed democracy back into the people. This is revolution and reform with the centrist ideals of democrats and republics. Pro Choice, Pro-American, Pro-Freedom are all words that define the Election Campaign and the historical day of Tuesday, November 4, 2008 carved in history forever. Many multiplicities of achivement are in our near and distant future!

On a side note - I would next like to see a Catholic President elected and serve the United States of America. The only Catholic President elected to lead our Protestant founded nation was assassinated sadly. Let us pray for our God-given freedom and not only keep our faith, but HOPE 4 CHANGE!

William H said...

A monumental moment indeed! Looking around, new to the state of Minnesota, and Minnesota politics, I can say that I was impressed. I can remember standing in a room filled with over 500 people who supported the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. Every time Obama would win a state, a roar would emerge from the crowd. Every time AL Franken's numbers would rise, a roar would emerge from the crowd. Obama and Franken paraphernalia floated all about the room. Laughter and cheers filled the 3 floors packed with supporters with the "Audacity of Hope" that Obama had this in the bag! As I exchanged words and handshakes with local elected officials and fellow democrats the announcement came across the screen; "Barack Obama is the new President of the United States of America." As I stood in shock, a fellow African American came and gave me a hug, as a tear came from my eye! Yes we did! The news was overwhelming. After a couple more hugs, high fives, and pounds my roommate and I exited the party. We ended are not at the local bar listening to one of the greatest speeches given in the 21st century. The next day I read my local newspaper the "Trentonian" and it stated "local elected officials and possible candidates square off.” Yes, they were on a verge of a physical confrontation. A possible 2010 mayoral candidate for the City of Trenton who supported Obama from the beginning of his campaign name was not mentioned, by one of the elected officials who was a avid Hillary Clinton supporter. All I can remember is what Dr. Martin Luther King said; and what Obama so eloquently re-stated, "We've got some difficult days ahead."

Anonymous said...

I was in Grant Park in Chicago Illinois watching President Barak Obama give his speech. Words can not say how I felt, what I saw, or what I experienced. It is an emotion that has not been given a name as of is an overwhelming emotion that I can still not speak on or write about with out tears. I can say however, that I came out proud of this nation as a whole!!!!! I have never been prouder to be an AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE...and prior to this event I would just use the title black, but I have embraced American to the most honorable extent now! I love our country, I love this nation, and I love President Barak Obama, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha as well!!!