Obama's Win Caps Long Road to Change

November 5, 2008 8:34:25 PM PST
Barack Obama's win is being deeply felt in African American communities across the country and here in the valley. And the impact of it is being viewed differently by each generation. You could see and feel it in Fresno's Tower District on election night. As the results unfolded they gathered around our television monitors on a sidewalk watching history being made. Fresno Councilmember Cynthia Sterling was among them: "All of us are just standing here just in awe watching and realizing that we are stepping right into history." They crowded together to listen to Obama's speech from Chicago. It echoed the mantra of his campaign - Yes we Can. He capped those words with - And we did!

By morning the moment of victory was beginning to settle into the truth of what had happened. At the offices of the California Advocate - a weekly newspaper for Fresno's African American community - the publishers: a father, mother and son were eager to explore what it meant. Les Kimber told us, "To see young people come in during this stage of the transformation of this country, gives me hope."

His son, Mark Kimber believes we had watched a page turn in the civil rights struggle that will allow African Americans to not just dream but to achieve, "A lot of us now, have to drop some of our baggage and really just strive to be the best we can be." For his mother, Pauline Kimber, this election is an affirmation of her faith and her hope for truly united America. A goal defined by Martin Luther King Junior 45 years ago. It was on August 28, 1963 when he spoke the words "I have a dream ... "

Dezie Woods-Jones of Madera was in that crowd in Washington, D.C. on that day in 1963. They were the words that solidified the civil rights movement. Barack Obama she says are its embodiment, "We used to say any child can be president and you didn't really believe that and he's made that true for us now, you really can."

On August 27, 2008 Woods-Jones was an Obama delegate at this summer's historic Democratic National Convention in Colorado and now Barack Obama is the nation's President-elect, "Do I think that it erased racism in this world? No, But it made a large dent. It showed us that a lot of people who have come a long way can say: yes, it doesn't matter the color of your skin, it doesn't matter."

On this presidential election night a sea of faces of different colors, all cross the country, began a new chapter in our shared American history. One that Les Kimber has been waiting for all his life, "It's a very inspirational victory."

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