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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

This 'redneck' voted Obama

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 06:54 pm CT by Kari Huus.
Filed under Nashville 45 comments—join the discussion

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Bobbi Hamilton has been changing tires in Nashville for 53 years. (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

Bobbi Hamilton has been changing tires in this part of the city since he was 11 years old, so he knows Nashville. Now, at 65, he is predicting something he could not have imagined as a younger man—that the state of Tennessee will support an African-American, Barack Obama, for president.

“Ten or 15 years ago the state wouldn’t vote for a woman or a black,” he says. “But times change, and you gotta change with them.”

Continued…

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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

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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.”

Continued…

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Defying stereotypes at Home Depot

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 04:13 pm CT by Mike Stuckey.
Filed under Seattle 66 comments—join the discussion

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Army veteran Edwin "Mac" McAdoo works as a day laborer, seeking jobs outside Home Depot. (John Brecher / mnsbc.com) 

A Home Depot parking lot isn’t a typical venue to discuss presidential politics, but this isn’t a  typical election, so we stopped by to work the crowd and see what we could find.

Among the scrum of eager day laborers clamoring for work at the North Seattle store on U.S. Highway 99 was Edwin “Mac” McAdoo. Among the shoppers was general contractor Phil Teller.

And as Sen. Barack Obama’s historic but improbable journey has defied conventional political wisdom, McAdoo and Teller defied political stereotypes.

With a mane of blond hair tucked under a Seattle Seahawks cap and a compact, hard-as-nails physique, McAdoo, 50, appears to be a poster boy of the proletariat, the kind of hard-working common man whom trade unions and Democrats take for granted.

But he’s rooting for Republican Sen. John McCain.

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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Watching the world change from the porch

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 12:34 pm CT by Kari Huus.
Filed under Nashville 258 comments—join the discussion

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Willy Morris, 84, shares his thoughts from his porch in north Nashville, Tenn. (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

At 84, Willy Morris has seen a lot of candidates come and go. He’s voted in a lot of elections, and seen a lot of promises made and broken. He’s not volunteering who he voted for this time, but the Nashville resident says the presence of Sen. Barack Obama on the ballot means the world has already changed.

“You had Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and they didn’t get this far,” says Morris, a retired produce worker and Army veteran. “This boy (Obama) is leading the pack.”

Continued…

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Pride after the first time

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 12:24 pm CT by Bill Dedman.
Filed under Bronx 1 comments—join the discussion

Validus Prep student Ahmed Hunt, 18, discusses how it felt to vote in this election. (John Makely / msnbc.com)

"It feels good," 18-year-old Ahmed Hunt said after casting his first ballot.

A senior at Validus Preparatory Academy, a public school in the Bronx, Hunt had played Sen. Barack Obama in the school program this year. He said he voted for Obama.

"Everyone should vote," Hunt said. "It feels good to feel like I can make a change."

(See other posts from the Bronx.)

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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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'We got issues'

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 11:56 am CT by Bill Dedman.
Filed under Bronx 54 comments—join the discussion

081104shirtdetailsmall2 "We Got Issues" is a T-shirt created by students at Validus Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, where this year's theme was "the new face of American politics."

Why did the school, with an overwhelmingly minority population, focus so much attention on the election?

"I think young people in general, regardless of race, are really excited about this election," says Principal Brady Smith. "But I do know that there's a power in seeing someone who looks like you in an authority position. So for many of our students to see Barack Obama, who has such a life story, in many ways our students have life stories that parallel his. That kind of connection, you can't manufacture. So I know students that are way more engaged because of that."

Click here for a larger view of the T-shirt.

(Image courtesy of Validus Preparatory Academy)

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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Glued to the news

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 11:31 am CT by Kari Huus.
Filed under Nashville 0 comments—join the discussion

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Nashville resident Tammy Baker is anticipating a long night of watching election returns.  (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

For Tammy Baker, Election Day is all about multitasking. She’s putting in a full -- and stressful -- day at her job as an account manager with a health care company in central Nashville, but she ill have one ear on her radio at the same time and be checking her favorite Internet sites for the latest political and voting news throughout the day.

Before even arriving at work, Baker was on the phone comparing notes with friends and family members. A friend in Louisville, Ky. told her that voters at one polling station there were told to come back later because the voting machines were down.

Continued…

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