As the results trickled in, the tears trickled down. Millions of faces glistened with tears on election night. There were tears of joy, as many Americans celebrated Barack Obama’s historic victory; tears of sorrow, as many Americans lamented John McCain’s loss; tears of gratitude, as many Americans got down on their knees and thanked God that the presidential race was finally over.
“No more negative ads, no more debates, no more promises they can’t keep!” screamed a 40-year-old Detroit man, running into the street in jubilation. “And no more red and blue maps on TV!”
For African-Americans, especially those who had lived through the Civil Rights Era, it was a once-in-ten-lifetimes occasion, one that seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago. “I don’t believe it, I just don’t believe it,” said an 80-year-old Chicago man, rubbing his eyes. “A black man in the White House! And he’s not carrying a broom!”
So surreal was the moment that many Obama supporters attending a victory rally in Chicago turned to their friends and said, “Pinch me. I must be dreaming.” There was so much pinching during the night that Chicago Police received reports of 38 missing wallets.
“It was a night of inspiration,” said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. “While Senator Obama and his many supporters were chanting, ‘Yes, we can,’ a few crooks were also saying, ‘Yes, we can.'”
It wasn’t just the crooks causing trouble. At least one woman slapped the man beside her, screaming, “I didn’t tell you to pinch me THERE!”
But nothing could spoil the night for Obama supporters, nothing could detract from a terrific speech by the soon-to-be 44th President of America, who is slightly more eloquent than the 43rd.
Obama’s speech was so magnificent that it even moved a group of Penn State students gathered at a bar in State College, Pennsylvania. “We were so inspired,” said junior Mike Williams. “Every time Obama said, ‘Yes, we can,’ we took another sip.”
McCain’s concession speech was just as inspiring, full of grace and class, leaving many of his supporters saying “If only.”
Supporter: “If only he had made more appearances on Saturday Night Live.”
Second supporter: “If only he had picked Joe the Plumber as his running mate.”
Third supporter: “If only he had dyed his skin black.”
That Obama’s skin color was seen by some as an advantage — and not the formidable obstacle it was expected to be — is a testament of how much America has changed. Indeed, when young white voters were shown a picture of Obama and asked if he was different from them in any way, 63 percent of them pointed at his ears. They were referring, of course, to the fact that Obama is considered a good listener. It’s a quality that endeared him to many female voters. “Too bad he isn’t single,” one woman said. “I would have voted for him several more times.”
Just a few decades ago, African-Americans had to sit at the back of the bus, had to order their food through the back door of the restaurant, had to kowtow to the white folk. Now they’re sending one of their own to the whitest of houses.
No wonder a 92-year-old African-American woman in a Cleveland nursing home took her own pulse while watching the Obama victory rally on TV.
“Are you okay?” a nurse asked.
“I’m fine,” the woman replied. “For a moment, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”