Barack Hussein Obama, son of a Black Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, swept into the White House as the first Black to win the race for President of the United States, riding a wave of votes from Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, women, youth, new voters
Barack Hussein Obama, son of a Black Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, swept into the White House as the first Black to win the race for President of the United States, riding a wave of votes from Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, women, youth, new voters and the elderly.
Overcoming considerable odds, Obama, 47, has made history, becoming the nation’s 44th president. He told voters for 21 months that it was time for a change, and voters responded by choosing him to effect that change.
A few minutes before 11 p.m., Obama strode onto the stage at Hutchinson Park in Chicago, accompanied by his wife Michelle and his daughters Natasha and Malia Ann, to address the 70,000 gathered there and millions around the world.
“I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to,” he said. “It belongs to you. It belongs to you.”
“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America,” Obama told the roaring crowd.
“There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face.” The television news networks called the race for Obama at 10 p.m. Central Time, as soon as the polls closed in California. The networks projected Obama the winner in California, gathering in the 55 electoral votes, putting the Illinois senator over the top.
In addition to California, Obama won Colorado, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Virginia, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia.
The lopsided Electoral College win ended a rancorous campaign, with Republicans attacking Obama at every turn, questioning his experience, his associations, and his ideology. But in the end, Obama’s cool demeanor, intelligence and oratory skills won over a coalition of voters, and dealt a serious blow to the Republican Party.
Republican nominee Sen. John McCain conceded 20 minutes later, congratulating Obama for his win, and pointing out that this was a special source of pride to Black Americans.
“We’ve come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation,” McCain said just minutes after calling Obama to concede.
“I pledge to him tonight to help him lead us through the many challenges we may face,” said McCain.
“It’s natural tonight to feel some disappointment,” McCain told his supporters. “Though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.”
Obama’s hometown of Chicago erupted upon hearing the news, as the more than 500,000 revelers who gathered downtown let out cheers that nearly drowned out the blaring car horns. It was a diverse group, bedecked in Obama T-shirts, buttons, and hats, some bought just this evening from the swarm of vendors hawking everything from fans to balloons.
Those who could not get into the ticketed celebration gathered around a Jumbotron several blocks away to see Obama deliver his victory speech. Their cheers filled the balmy night air, and perfect strangers embraced and congratulated each other on the historic win.
“I will always cherish this day because I can say I was here in Chicago when our country elected the first Black president,” said Lisa Tademan, 50, from Gurnee.
On Chicago’s South Side, the celebrations took over the streets, as houses and apartments emptied in the unseasonably warm November night, to cheer and dance. They rightfully took pride in one of their own ascending to the highest office in the land.
Perhaps more importantly, they were soaking in the historic significance of the achievement, the first Black man to become president of the United States.
“Obama is a brilliant young politician and thinks on behalf of the entire society instead of just one sector of the people,” said Chicago businessman and author Dempsey Travis. “I know him well because he lived in one of my apartments. He has certainly captured the interest of millions of people. When he becomes president, I think he’ll deal honestly with people in the nation.”
Chicago Defender reporters Kathy Chaney, Wendell Hutson and Earl Calloway contributed to this report.
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