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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

How students see Obama impact

Posted Monday, November 3 at 03:28 pm CT by Bill Dedman
Filed under Bronx 2 comments—join the discussion

We asked the predominantly Hispanic and African-American students at Validus Preparatory Academy, a public school in the Bronx, to provide written responses to questions about race and the election. This is the school profiled in our article and video here: Obama's story resonates with Bronx students.

The questions: If an African-American man is elected president, will that change race relations in America? Is it a sign of real change? Will it bring about real change? What are your hopes and fears around race and ethnicity for yourself and your family?

Below are selected answers from the students:

I believe there are a lot of people that are still not prepared to accept the fact that what was once considered property may become the president. My fear is that Obama will be killed and harm will be done to his supporters.

Christie Logrono, 16, junior


If an African-American is elected president, I think it would change race relations in America for the worst. It might be a sign of real change or cause mayhem. I don't honestly think African-Americans would know how to take it -- they might start to look down on people. If you wish to start another Civil War elect an African-American with an education.

Eric Caldwell, 17, junior

If someone has a bad image about black people and doesn't really like them, if Obama wins the presidency and he actually makes the country better, they'll probably change their perspectives towards African-American people.

Arisleyda Romero, 16, junior


Barack Obama is more than just a sign of change. He is a symbol of our savior. There is such a thing as crooked cops who target primarily black men. I feel that Obama will bring a change to our policies and make it that our black men and women are given even fairer trials and will not be judged based on race. What I'm hoping is that he'll break the racial barrier and us as minorities won't feel so small.

Kimberly Ruiz, 15, junior


This is going to be a real change because now people are going to see that an African-American can do a lot of things. That they are as smart as a white man. My fear is that if he wins someone is trying to kill him.

Ashley Pacheco, 17, junior


Unfortunately our society continues to emphasize racial issues. Some believe he's a savior. I believe he's a regular person with aspirations of a better America.

Kim Kerr, 16, junior


Everyone is always saying there is a reason the White House is called the White House, and African-Americans and Hispanics don't belong there. It will bring about real change.

Zainob Sowunmi, 14, freshman


It will motivate people that aren't doing right to change their ways. Because we are always told you can do whatever you put your mind to, and we don't always believe that. But for a man of color to even have gotten this far sure lets me believe I can make it.

Liza Muniz, 17, junior


I do think it's a sign of change because then people are open-minded and have changed a lot over the years.

Sara Pardave, 16, junior


Even if a lot of people are still racist, Obama has opened hope. So that even if he doesn't win, more people will try to fulfill what once seemed impossible. My fear is that even though he is African-American, if and once he gets in office he will forget everything he promised and forget about his own kind.

Kateryn Plasencia, 15, junior


I think the fact that an African-American man has the chance to be president is a sign that many Americans are ready for change and only a few people are against a president of a different race than them. Me and my dad fear that if an African-American president is elected some African-American men will feel more protected to commit crimes against Spanish people. I think that if a black president were to be elected there would be need of interracial unity and programs to improve the relationships of blacks and Hispanics.

Maria Perez, 18, junior


I think that if an African-American man is elected president it will help decrease the assumptions that people have about black. If he is elected it does not mean that racism will be no more, but this will increase the respect for African-Americans. The hopes that I have for myself and my family is that more people will respect my race and my ethnicity.

Joseph Abankwa, 15, junior


Obama is an African-American and white male. He can bring a lot of changes to America. Blacks are looked upon as lazy. Dropouts. Dumb. Greedy and selfish people. And only care about materialistic things. But Obama is a strong, brilliant guy. He opens a lot for African-American people. He not only shows we can be smart, but he shows black people have the ability to run for the highest position. He worked hard and he studied hard to come this far.

Shaniqua Hamilton, 16, junior


If Obama becomes president, it will show black people can make it anywhere. I think this will make black people more active. There would be more black people in places of power in this world, not just in the rap music.

Geoffrey Rivera, 17, junior


We started with an African-American on the news because of guns and death. Now we have an African-American man on the news 24/7 because he is becoming president. That is a big change. This is telling black people and Spanish people, just because of the way your skin looks does not mean you can not aim high.

Francis Nwabuzo, junior


My number one fear is the economy. It has nothing to do with race and ethnicity, but with the economy running the way it is, college may become more expensive. What about the bank that gives the loans? When they go bankrupt, then what?

Saye Diaw, 16, junior


No, I don't think if an African-American is elected president the race relations would change. It's been the same forever. I would like most things to change, but sometimes people are stubborn. Some people put on a front like they would accept a black person as president.

Jordan Fenner, 19, junior


I don't care what color president we have as long as he's going to make a difference for me, my family and everybody else.

Angelique Silva, 16, junior


Maybe one day I can run for president and be the first African-American female president and that would be a change for the world. My question is, can Obama really stop this war and can he really make a change within four years. I'm hoping Obama is a man of his words and a man of action.

Habibah Caldwell, 16, junior


If an African-American man is elected president that would not change race relations in America. I think it would get worse because jealousy would get the best of the majority. They would feel we are taking everything from them. They would feel inferior and would do everything they could to stop it. They would probably say that we need to stay in our places.

Wendy Okolo, 16, junior


African-American people went from seating in the back of the bus to running for president and having a 50-50 shot at being elected. That screams change to me.

Zhamedra Thom, 16, junior

(See other posts from the Bronx)


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