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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

Doubtless in Seattle

Posted Monday, November 3 at 08:21 pm CT by Mike Stuckey
Filed under Seattle 0 comments—join the discussion


Bruce Gentry spent 20 years building skyscrapers in downtown Seattle. (John Brecher / msnbc.com)

History seems a foregone conclusion in the Emerald City.

On a cold, dark, damp election eve around Seattle’s downtown Pioneer Square, a handful of sidewalk interviews found little doubt that Sen. Barack Obama would become America’s first black president.

“The Republicans are done,” said a jovial Danny Hawkins, 51, a Seattle barber. “They’ve had their share.”


Annelie Day and Aaron Klingensmith. (John Brecher / msnbc.com)

“Hell yeah!” said Bruce Gentry, 62, a disabled construction worker.

Their sentiments about Obama’s chances aren’t too surprising as this is one of the Left Coast’s most liberal towns; Sen. John Kerry won the county with 65 percent of the vote to 34 percent for President Bush in 2004.

But their takes on what an Obama presidency would mean for the nation and the world diverge.

“He’s for the people and it’s time for a change,” Hawkins said. “Poor people don’t have programs to help them get back on their feet. When he comes into office, he’s going to get these programs back.”

Also, an African-American in the White House would send a powerful message, Hawkins said: “By electing Barack Obama, here’s somebody who came from nothing, so anybody can make it.”

Gentry, who harbors fears that Obama could be assassinated, was not as optimistic. “I live in a racist country,” he said. “You know it and I know it. I love this country and I can’t stand it.”

One president can only do so much, he said, and that won’t be much.

“I have a bitter hate in my body because the United States has allowed this racist issue not to be erased.”


Danny Hawkins in Seattle. (John Brecher / msnbc.com)

“I’m pretty confident Obama is going to win,” said Seattle University sophomore Aaron Klingensmith, clad in cowboy gear as part of a school film project, and accompanied by Annelie Day, who was sporting a horse costume.


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