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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

Watching history from Rockefeller Center

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 11:08 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 52 comments—join the discussion

Hundreds of people cheered, cried, hugged each other and jumped for joy at Rockefeller Center’s Democracy Plaza Tuesday as NBC and other networks declared Sen. Barack Obama the projected winner of the presidential election.

Many chanted "Obama! Obama!" as the results were announced shortly after 11 p.m.

"We came out this historic night -- I never thought this was a possibility in my lifetime," said Stephanie Grill.

She brought her 11-year-old daughter Estella, who had worked the phones for Obama.

"It's so emotional," Stephanie said. "Te best thing about it is that Obama inspired people, especially getting the young people to get so involved."

Carol Shaw watched in awe as the nigh unfolded on a jumbo video screen.

"I remember Reverend Martin Luther King's words of I have a dream, and I had begun to feel that dream was over, but we are here today as prove that it still exists," said Shaw, who is African-American. "It's history, and I am happy I'm here to see it."

"No more Bush! No more Bush!" screamed Anish Doshi at the top of his lungs. "This opens the door for everyone -- for my son, his son and her son to be president one day." 

As Republican Sen. John McCain came on the screen to deliver his concession speech, the crowd became silent. But not for long. Soon the chants for Obama filled the air again.

“It’s monumental -- I got the chills,” said 23-year-old Chaz Cleveland.

Cleveland, who is African-American, said he dreamt about being president when he was young, but once he got older, he felt it was not a possibility.

But now, he said, “All kids in kindergarten can say, ‘I want to be president one day’ and believe it can be true.”

James Pohl, from Northern Virginia, said she wouldn’t miss this election for the world because an African-American and woman were on the tickets. He said he wanted to be a “small but significant piece of history.”

Milton Verdugo, originally from Ecuador, admits he slacked off in 2004 and didn't vote even though he became a citizen in 2002. This time, he wasn't going to miss the election.

"This country needs a new direction, and I am glad to be part of it," he said. Obama's candidacy, he said, opened the doors for all minorities.

Verdugo said he was moved by seeing people who were not African-American supporting Obama, embracing a candidate across racial lines. He argued that 20 years ago, we would have never seen this happen.

Phillis Anderson, from Baltimore, couldn’t agree more.  She said this election has expanded people’s horizons. “We all have the same concerns and desires. Hopefully that will help us move forward in this country.”

-- Maria Alcon, NBC News producer


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