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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.

Correspondent

Field reports from NBC and affiliates

On campus, a night to celebrate

Posted Wednesday, November 5 at 02:56 am CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 8 comments—join the discussion

At some of the nation’s historically black colleges, the emotion was almost overwhelming.

At Spelman College in Atlanta, students were stunned when Sen. Barack Obama was declared the winner shortly after 11 p.m.

For just a moment, a "pinch me is this real" second, students stopped in their tracks.

One senior economics major fell to floor, in disbelief.

It was true. Obama had not won Georgia, but he had WON.

Then the tears came.  The emotion and exhilaration, just overwhelming.

After all the hugs and screams, came the text messages, of course.

At nearby Morehouse College, another historically black school, Austin King was celebrating.

King, a political science and economics major, is one of the few registered Republicans on campus.  "I haven't met another one yet," he said.

Yet around the time of the second debate, King began to come around to Obama, seeing him as more confident and more broad in his vision than McCain.

And then, this staunch Republican did it.  He voted for Obama.

He still considers himself conservative, but is happy with his decision.

On both campuses, it was a night for energetic cultural celebration -– for dance and music, and reflection on history, as young as these students are.

Several students spoke of grandparents who worked in the civil rights movement and inspired them to become politically aware and politically active.

In some cases there were great-great-great grandparents who were slaves.

They may be first-time voters, but these students have a clear, fresh picture of what they want this country to be, for people of every color.  And though their eyes may be clouded with tears, they are clearly seeing a day their ancestors could not imagine.

-- Michelle Kosinski, NBC News correspondent

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