Millions of Americans voted for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s message of change on Election Day and the Illinois senator rode that tidal wave to victory. It was a historic win and a decisive one. Minutes after the polls closed on the West Coast at 8 p.m. on Election Tuesday, the number of electoral votes for Obama flew past the required 270 needed to win.
The 47-year-old Obama will become the youngest president in American history. Also, a nation where blacks were once sold as slaves has now elected a black man to its highest office. In his victory speech in front of thousands of supporters in Chicago last night, Obama said, “… because of what we did this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”
As an African American woman, the historic significance of this touches me deeply. Yet, I must say that I did not vote for Obama because of his skin color, in fact, he was not my first choice in the presidential race.
I was a throw-down dedicated Hillary Clinton supporter. I didn’t jump off that train and board the Obama hope express until last January after the South Carolina primary. Obama won big, 55 percent of the vote, in that southern state and delivered a powerful version of his “Yes, we can” speech.
I remember, I was working at my computer keyboard and the speech was on the radio in the background. Gradually, as the words struck a cord with me, I stopped typing and just listened. I was greatly moved by Obama’s message of change, hope, and determination, “…where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words — yes, we can.” It is a message the country needed to hear and needs to believe in during these tough times. Also, it is a message I had expected to hear from Hillary Clinton.
It took me a few days to switch presidential candidates, but I did by the time the California primary rolled around on February 5. I knew Obama’s odds of winning were long, but the American Dream is built on long shots. Then, as the campaign progressed I became more and more convinced that the time was right for voters in this country to look beyond race and focus on a candidate’s message and qualifications to lead. And that’s just what happened. it’s totally awesome that it occurred in my lifetime.
I’ve always been proud of my country and its people, I’m just a little more so today.