McCain, Obama and Bush have had their say on the significance of the election of the first black president. And, then, there is the joy of African-American voters:
"The best part of my two-hour wait was when an elderly Black woman got dropped off at the polls," another voter, posting on Stereohyped.com, reported. "She had a walker, but pulled a polling judge to the side and asked her if they had wheelchairs. She hadn't been out of her bed in ages and was afraid she wouldn't be able to move to actually get inside the building. The polling judge told her that they didn't have any wheelchairs, and was at a loss at what to do. That's when five Black men got out of line to assist this woman, supporting her back, arms and legs, they carried her into the polling center. The crowd was so overwhelmed with the comraderie, that everyone started clapping."
This, and other joy filled moments recorded at Essence, including:
Bridgett Davis, who's in her forties, says she felt tears in her eyes as she stood in line waiting to vote. "I was at my polling station in Brooklyn with my 9-year-old son, and as I looked down at him, I just realized he was living a moment he was going to tell over and over in his lifetime about how he was standing in line with the line wrapped around the block for an hour and a half so his mother could vote for this African-American man." Just at the moment, Fields says, her nephew called on her cell phone. "He's a tough, 35-year-old guy," says Fields, "and he said, ‘I just voted and I gotta tell you, I got really choked up.'"At Roots, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes:
Nothing could have prepared any of us for the eruption (and, yes, that is the word) of spontaneous celebration that manifested itself in black homes, gathering places and the streets of our communities when Sen. Barack Obama was declared President-elect Obama. From Harlem to Harvard, from Maine to Hawaii—and even Alaska—from "the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire … [to] Stone Mountain of Georgia," as Dr. King put it, each of us will always remember this moment, as will our children, whom we woke up to watch history being made.TD Jakes writing at TIME is both joyful and cautious. He asks, Will a Black President Really Heal the Racial Divide?:
My colleagues and I laughed and shouted, whooped and hollered, hugged each other and cried. My father waited 95 years to see this day happen, and when he called as results came in, I silently thanked God for allowing him to live long enough to cast his vote for the first black man to become president. And even he still can't quite believe it!
But before we light candles and sing "Kumbaya," it may be wise to adjust our expectation to a realistic depiction of attainable goals. No one man's appointment will end all racial tension. Nor will it totally eradicate the residual bitterness inherent in a society where such atrocities as slavery and Jim Crow lie only a few miles behind us. In fact, the economic crisis facing the country demands that the Obama Administration move past the pettiness of race matters with the haste of a paramedic driving an ambulance. Tomorrow we will not care about the color of the driver nor the pronunciation of his name.Readers, we'd be grateful for any other stories you have, be they personal experiences, or links.
Addendum. Michael Eric Dyson:
The election of Barack Obama symbolizes the resurrection of hope and the restoration of belief in a country that has often failed to treat its black citizens as kin. For millions of blacks abandoned to social neglect and cultural isolation, Obama's words and vision have built a bridge back into the American family.