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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

'We're giving birth to a president'

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 11:05 pm CT by Bill Dedman
Filed under Bronx 149 comments—join the discussion

Ellen Caldwell , far left, reacts to the announcement of Obama’s victory with her twins Habib Caldwell , second from left, and Habibah Caldwell, far right, as well as niece Shaday Brown. (John Makely / msnbc.com)

A last word from the Brown and Caldwell families in the Bronx:

"The anticipation," Ellen Caldwell said moments before the final announcement by NBC News and other networks that Barack Obama was the projected winner of the U.S. presidency. "It's almost like giving birth to a baby. Except we're giving birth to a president."

Shaday Brown pointed to the TV, telling her 3-year-old cousin Nyem. "Look, Nyem. Obama! Obama!"

At first, no sound followed the announcement on TV that Obama had won. The family simply could not believe it was true.

"Are they playing us?" said 17-year-old Shaday. "He won?"

It took a full five minutes before the family believed it. They were watching cheering crowds on TV and still couldn't quite process the news.

Then the tears came.

The sound of car horns and shouts came in through the open window.

Ellen Caldwell summed up the feeling.

"We don't only excel at basketball and sports," she said. "We're fine physicians and teachers. Now we're going to run the country. We're intelligent enough to do that."

"Our ancestors died for this moment," she said. "The march was not in vain."

And then she said to the next generation:

"You are going to tell your children and your grandchildren that you saw this happen."

(See other posts from the Bronx.)

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