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About Witnessing History

As Barack Obama became the first black candidate to win the nation’s highest elected office, msnbc.com was on hand to document the thoughts and emotions of members of three generations of African-Americans. Click on the photos below to read a specific thread, or on the NBC logo to read field reports on the role of race in the election. Or you can scan the posts at right to read them in chronological order.

Validus Prep students

Students at Validus Prep, the Bronx, N.Y.

Tammy Baker

Tammy Baker, office worker, Nashville, Tenn.

Henry McGee Jr.

Henry McGee Jr., law professor, Seattle, Wa.


Field reports from NBC and affiliates

'I'm a ball of emotions'

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 09:56 pm CT by Bill Dedman
Filed under Bronx 43 comments—join the discussion

081104electionshaday1Watching the election returns on TV at home in the Bronx, the family of sisters Debra Grant Brown and Ellen Caldwell is "nervous, worried, excited, all of the above," Brown said.

The family has gathered in Brown's living room with their children and friends. First came a dinner of barbecued chicken wings, lima beans and rice. It's not clear how long 3-year-old Nyem Badawri, Ellen's grandson, will stay up, but the rest of the family is in it for the long haul. Debra's daughters are Shaday Brown, one of the students we have followed from Validus Prep, a public school in the Bronx, and Fatimah Hernandez, a special-ed teacher at the school.

As Pennsylvania was called for Sen. Barack Obama by CNN at 8:40 p.m., Shaday started applauding with her cousin Habibah.

"I'm a ball of emotions," Fatimah said.

Long resentments die slowly. There is talk of the election being stolen out from under a black candidate. Or even of Obama, if he wins, not being allowed to run the country.

The family is proud of its connection to a well-known literary figure. Playwright Ben Caldwell, writer of caustic and humorous plays and sketches, is Ellen's husband.

Ellen Caldwell said her biggest fear is not that Sen. John McCain will be elected, but that Gov. Sarah Palin might then someday become president.

"People are going to put Sarah Palin in the White House?" Ellen said. "Please! She can't even take care of her own house. Her teenage daughter is pregnant."

We'll have more from the family as the returns roll in.

(See other posts from the Bronx.)


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