Go to blog homepage

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

Not even in his lifetime?

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 08:21 pm CT by Bill Dedman
Filed under Bronx 61 comments—join the discussion


Edward Grant, 64, with his grandson Nikolas Simmons, 7, after voting at the Bronx County Building Tuesday evening. At left is Barbara Coto, 54, Nikolas' grandmother. (John Makely / msnbc.com)

In the ornate Bronx County Courthouse, under murals of Revolutionary War heroes who fought at Pell's Point in the Bronx, 64-year-old Edward Grant brought his entire family to vote. As a black man who grew up in Harlem and fought in Vietnam, he said he hadn't expected to see a black man win the presidency for "another 20 or 30 years." In other words, "Not in my lifetime."

That's not all. His daughter, 28-year-old Nicole Cote, pointed to her son, 7-year-old Nikolas Simmons, adding, "I wasn't even sure in his lifetime!"

Young Nikolas punched on a video game, racing cars while his mother and grandparents talked. He was wearing his school uniform of white shirt and clip-on tie from Christ the King School in the Bronx. In the mock election at his school, he voted for "Barack Obama," he said brightly, giving the election tally in his school: 135 for Obama, 35 for Sen. John McCain.

Back when Nikolas first heard about Obama being a candidate, his mother recalled, "He said, 'Mommy, Obama's not going to win. He's brown.'"

But after tonight, his mother said, "Whether Obama wins or not, I can tell him that he can do anything, and mean it."

The patriarch, Edward Grant, and his wife, Barbara Coto, 54, said they voted for Obama, not because Obama is African-American but because of his ideas. Besides, Grant is a lifelong Democrat. "I've been voting for white Democrats all my life," he said.

The family stood in front of the words of another Democrat, carved on the walls of the monumental 1933 courthouse.

"'America First,'" said Woodrow Wilson in 1916, "means nothing unless you translate it into what you do. So I believe most profoundly in the duty of every American to exalt the national consciousness by purifying his own motives and exhibiting his own devotion. I believe, in the second place, that America, the country that we put first in our thoughts, should be ready in every point of policy and of action to vindicate at whatever cost the principles of liberty, of justice, and of humanity to which we have been devoted from the first. You cheer the sentiment, but do you realize what it means? It means that you have not only got to be just to your fellowman but that as a nation you have got to be just to other nations."

(See other posts from the Bronx.)


Email this post


Trackbacks are links to weblogs that reference this post. Like comments, trackbacks do no appear until approved by us. The trackback URL for this post is: https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b0aa69e2010535d32613970b