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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

Record turnout or no, some voters opt out

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 05:01 pm CT by Kari Huus
Filed under Nashville 53 comments—join the discussion

081104tomcrawford1p

Tom Crawford isn't voting in this year's presidential election.  "Ain't gonna be any change," he says.  (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

Tom Crawford, 61, voted once, but it was a long time ago, and he sees nothing to gain by starting again now. As he sits eating sugar wafers on the front porch in a shady trailer home in northeast Nashville, his view in short is that it’s a long time since politicians really made a difference to him.

What he would like is for politicians to “Do their jobs. Stop gang violence.” Pressed for more thoughts, he adds: “Increase the minimum wage.”

Crawford, a wiry, independent man originally from California, gets by on a $650 a month Social Security check, as well as odd jobs he does for cash and meals. He has served some prison time, but his right to vote was restored and he could cast could vote if he chose to. He just doesn't see the point.

For Crawford, having a black man as a presidential candidate or a woman as vice presidential candidate may be historic, but he not counting on either the “change” that Obama promises or for the Republican candidates to act as mavericks.

“They will say what they want, and then they will get in office and do what they want,” he says.

Crawford’s neighbor, who refused to be identified except by the name Harry, seconds that opinion. He hasn’t voted since John F. Kennedy, and he says, “They killed him to keep him from fixing the system.”

As for McCain and Obama, Harry doesn’t like either one: “I say dig a hole and throw ‘em both in.”

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