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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

Nashville Posts

A scream of amazement splits the night

Posted Wednesday, November 5 at 12:13 am CT by Kari Huus
Filed under Nashville 207 comments—join the discussion

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Tammy Baker reacts upon learning that Barack Obama had beaten John McCain. (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

A shrill scream issued from a house on Benay Drive right at 10 p.m. The voice belonged to Tammy Baker, who let loose upon learning that Barack Obama had been declared winner of the 2008 presidential election, becoming the first African-American to hold the nation's highest office.

Sitting in her sister Kim Baker’s house in this Opryland suburb, with a cell phone to one ear as the announcement came, she and her friend, Temaka, spent the first few minutes trading “oh my God"s, followed by giddy laughter and more “oh my God”s.

Continued…

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Get-out-the-vote surprise: No lines

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 10:14 pm CT by Kari Huus
Filed under Nashville 5 comments—join the discussion

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Steve Turner, center, coordinates volunteers in Nashville. (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

Just hours before the polls closed, Steve Turner, 25, was still at it — dispatching volunteers to polling places where he anticipated long lines. He loaded water and snacks into car trunks for volunteers and voters waiting in the unseasonably warm weather November sun. A veteran of three elections, he instructed his team to make sure people in line were at the right precinct so they didn’t waste time waiting in the wrong line.

And, he urged volunteers to stand in for voters who had to answer the call of nature.

Continued…

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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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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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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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Searching for crossover votes

Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 12:29 am CT by Kari Huus
Filed under Nashville 0 comments—join the discussion

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Matt Nemeth works the phones in Tennessee Victory Headquarters. (Jim Seida / msnbc.com)

On the evening before the historic 2008 elections, in an unmarked office on a strip populated with check cashing stores and discount liquor stores in the western reaches of the city, three volunteers were still working the phones on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket and state and local Republicans.

This modest looking three-room operation, dubbed the Tennessee Victory Headquarters, is an odd outpost with a complex political mission. As a coordinating center for Tennessee counties, much of the energy expended here is spent calling outside the Nashville/Davidson County area, and even outside the state on behalf of Republican candidates.

Continued…

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