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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

Field correspondents Posts

‘It’s Obama’s time’: An historic night in Harlem

Posted Wednesday, November 5 at 01:49 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 7 comments—join the discussion

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People react to news that Sen. Barack Obama has been elected president in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, N.Y. (Justin Lane / EPA)

More than 1,000 people watching the election results on a JumboTron in Harlem cheered wildly and spilled into the streets as the announcement came that Barack Obama had been elected America's 44th president.

Several people in the multiracial crowd broke down in tears, unable to contain their emotions.You can read more about their sentiments, and learn more about some of Harlem's landmarks, by clicking here.

Continued…

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In Harlem convenience store, an immigrant enclave

Posted Wednesday, November 5 at 03:34 am CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 19 comments—join the discussion

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African immigrants living in Harlem gather at a convenience store to watch election results. (todayshow.com)

It was no small feat in a small New York City space: About two dozen men crammed themselves into a tiny convenience store on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem.  The lucky ones nabbed seats on cardboard boxes, while late-comers spilled into the hallway, craning their necks to see the election results on a small TV in the corner.

They had immigrated from all across Africa and become friends while worshipping at the local mosque.  While most are pursuing permanent citizenship, in this historic moment, all of them felt like Americans.

Continued…

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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.

Continued…

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Watching history from Rockefeller Center

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 11:08 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 52 comments—join the discussion

Hundreds of people cheered, cried, hugged each other and jumped for joy at Rockefeller Center’s Democracy Plaza Tuesday as NBC and other networks declared Sen. Barack Obama the projected winner of the presidential election.

Many chanted "Obama! Obama!" as the results were announced shortly after 11 p.m.

"We came out this historic night -- I never thought this was a possibility in my lifetime," said Stephanie Grill.

Continued…

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Historic rally in Chicago

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 10:27 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 4 comments—join the discussion

CHICAGO - Thousands of people are pouring into Chicago's Grant Park, hoping  to witness a historic victory speech from Sen. Barack Obama, who is expected to appear later. An estimated 70,000 people will attend the rally at the park on Lake Michigan.

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Hollywood Obama party has a Latin theme

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 08:35 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 4 comments—join the discussion

Hollywood is Barack Obama country.

Obama raised more than $14 million from the entertainment industry on his way to raising $84 million in California -- two-thirds more than he raised in New York.

Tuesday afternoon at the Media Shop, a television and film production facility, Latinos -- an increasingly crucial Democratic bloc -- were putting the finishing touches on an Election Night party, anticipating an Obama win. As people dribbled in, a gigantic television screen on the wall was blasting the early returns, with  most states still "too early to call." But the collective mood was festive. Individually, the party preparers said they were cautiously optimistic, but they were already brimming with pride.

Continued…

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Obama supporters have hope in Harlem

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 07:28 pm CT by Marty Wolk
Filed under Field correspondents 3 comments—join the discussion

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Richard Crowder in Harlem (msnbc.com)

Roberto St. Louis isn't old enough to vote, but he’s still doing his part to help put Barack Obama in the White House. The 17-year-old was spending Election Day volunteering at Obama’s Harlem campaign headquarters on at 133rd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

“My mind is thinking [Obama’s] spirit is so wonderful.  He’s so direct,” Roberto said.  “That’s what this country needs right now.”

Continued…

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Modest hopes, days extraordinary

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 03:50 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 0 comments—join the discussion

PHILADELPHIA – The old man all but skipped through the glass front doors, out into the light rain, a smile on his face. When I asked him his story we stepped back under the overhang by the front door of the new G.W. Carver High School for Science and Engineering in North Philadelphia, where Otis Robertson had just voted.
            
"I'll be 80 Christmas Eve," he said. "Never missed voting for president since I was 18. But this..." his voice trailed off and came up with a gentle laugh. Then he added, "I figured one day it might happen, yes, in my lifetime." 

Continued…

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L.A. voters line up 'to be a part of history'

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 12:11 pm CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 9 comments—join the discussion

LOS ANGELES – It was before dawn as a crowd of African-American voters began lining up outside the auditorium of Audubon Middle School in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. There was no doubt about how they'd cast their ballots.

"If you're voting for McCain, you're in the wrong line," joked one man.

Continued…

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'Harlem's never seen anything like it'

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 11:47 am CT by msnbc.com
Filed under Field correspondents 11 comments—join the discussion

In 2004 I voted for president in my neighborhood of Harlem, N.Y., one of the nation’s oldest and most significant centers of African-American culture. I arrived at the polling location midmorning, strolled right in and voted. The whole thing took about five minutes. There was no line. There were no crowds.

Tuesday morning I arrived at the same polling station a few minutes after it opened at 6 a.m. The place was packed. Every step had to be followed with an "excuse me." Several people had cameras, and were taking pictures. I heard one woman say "this is history". Another woman held her young daughter in her arms and kept smiling and kissing her on the cheek, as if she was happy the little girl was witnessing the day. It was a remarkable contrast from four years ago and evidence of the voter excitement on this historic Election Day.

Continued…

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