illinois senator barack obama became the 44th us president in a landslide victory over arizona senator john mccain. in a stunning record turnout - folks everywhere waited in line, some for several hours - over 13 million people voted in this election, many of them under 30 & those for the very first time. this was the largest turnout in 100 years, the last time the cubs won the world series. obama received about 53% of the popular vote, yet his electoral college numbers more than doubled that of mccain. the historical nature of obama's win will be analyzed, discussed, studied & written about for years to come all around the world.
obama delivered a victory speech shortly after 11pm est to 125,000 folks in chicago's grant park, the largest political gathering in our nation's history. just 40 years ago grant park was home to one of the many rebellions around the country in response to the assassinations of rev dr king jr, democratic presidential nominee robert kennedy, the war in vietnam, poverty, racism & social unrest. in fact, before kennedy met the fate of his brother, president john f kennedy who was assassinated less than five years earlier, he prophetically stated, "in 30 or maybe 40 years i believe the american people will be ready for a negro president."
is this why some folks believe someone has to die for others to live?
the improbable campaign began 21 months ago on the steps of the capitol building in springfield, illinois. the temperature was seven degrees, a typically frigid day in the land of lincoln. with confidence, faith & in dramatic style, obama referenced abe, jfk & announced his candidacy for president to thunderous applause from his hometown supporters. he had no money, no endorsements & no name recognition. what he did have was a belief in the generosity of the american people, support from his brilliant wife michelle & their two daughters, as well as the audacity of hope.
the obama campaign is a success story for politicians to model. his grass-roots efforts were evident in nearly every state. his volunteers knocked on one million doors the last two days before the election. he raised about $650 million, most from small donors on the internet. he utilized technology with rigorous e-mails & text-messages to people throughout the campaign, fully accessing consumers from all walks of life. in a bold move unprecedented, obama produced a hollywood-style, marketing-savvy, slick infomerical lasting nearly 30 minutes on several major news stations, on the same day the world series was being played. but they said he was too soft...
some mccain supporters, particularly at rallies held by his vp running mate alaska governor sarah palin, accused obama of being 'liberal', 'muslim', 'socialist,' and/or 'terrorist', even though obama has publicly admitted to being 'christian,' 'patriotic', and a 'mama's boy'. obama did not assassinate the character of his opponent, instead he linked mccain's policies & voting record to bush. he primarily focused on the economy, gender pay equality, local/national service, universal health care & the war in iraq. mccain was in above his head.
during his 15-minute concession speech in arizona, mccain was eloquent, gracious & unifying - at times amidst a chorus of boos whenever he mentioned obama's name & resounding victory. where was this hue-man persona during the campaign? mccain said his congratulatory phone call to obama was "an honor." mccain pledged his abiding support to the president-elect & urged his supporters to do the same. they continued to boo, stopping only because he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. he shared his faith in the creator, acknowledging obama's grandmother, "the woman who raised him to be the decent man he is today," died the day before. he admitted their political difficulties will prolly remain, yet knows they both want what is best for the country. he admired obama's ability to inspire young & new voters. he also recognized this victory has a "special significance for african-americans."
when obama humbly walked onto the stage at grant park with his wife michelle & their two lovely daughters to deliver the most important speech of his young political career, the windy city erupted. folks were crying, hugging, jumping up & down, screaming, unable to contain themselves. media cameras caught rev jesse jackson with tears watering down his face. oprah winfrey was beaming in the front row. michael jordan was noticeably absent. it was truly a family atmosphere. 70,000 tickets were given to people to attend the monumental event, though it is estimated over one million people were in & around grant park to hear obama change the course of american history & write a new chapter in the political landscape.
obama won 90% of the black vote, 67% of the latino vote & 67% of the youth vote. the so-called minority is the new majority. his wins in florida, ohio & pennsylvania affirmed his universal appeal. at the outset of his speech obama honored mccain's hard-fought campaign, as well as his lifetime, selfless service to america. his supporters applauded with respect. obama proudly referenced lincoln, president franklin d roosevelt & rev dr martin luther king jr. he said, "to those who would try to tear us down we will defeat you, to those who come in peace & security, we offer our support." the most poignant moment came when he talked about a 106 year-old black woman from atlanta, ann nixon cooper, whom has seen america's "heartache, hope, struggle & progress before we had cars on the ground & planes in the sky...she was unable to vote for two reasons, because she was a woman, and because of the color of her skin."
yes we can.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.