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Friday, November 7, 2008

Smiling and Crying: Obama Elected President

All day Tuesday I couldn't stop smiling. As I shuffled between phone-banking, sign-waving, and tallying canvasser doors knocked, I could not suppress my overflowing joy.  I knew Obama was gonna win. I could feel victory in the air.  As I sauntered round the campaign office, ever in search of a new more interesting task (security gave me more than one look of concern), I could not help smiling. When cranky old people got mad at me for calling them to ask them if they had voted yet and proceeded to complain in very loud tones about how many !*&%#!!! Obama people had called them this week I just smiled and apologized for bothering them. Secretly I thought to myself, "WOW, we sure are working hard to be calling everybody three times a day to remind them to vote!"

Then I would share the juiciest dialogues with my campaign mates- two middle-aged Puerto Rican sisters (phone-banking in both English and Spanish) and a young African American fellow (phone-banking in both English and French-Creole) and we would all laugh. Nothing and no one could get us down.

Similarly, when I was out sign-waving on a downtown street corner next to grim-faced McCain/Palin supporters, no amount of offensive chants or shouts by passing cars could sink my mood. One nasty McCain supporter even mooned us with his big hairy butt. Gross. Who wants a constituency like that?

At one point a McCain supporter who had smiled at us and pretended to be civil quickly lost his polite veneer with a racist comment in response to one of our chants. When a young ( and quite happy!) Puerto Rican man in the Obama camp began chanting, "We're going to the white house!" the white racist McCain supporter replied, "to clean the windows." 

It was shocking but it didn't deter us. We got louder, changed our chant, shouted over them and kept on smiling.

All day I just kept breaking out in loony grins. When at the end of the night, CNN finally called the election for Obama I was incredulous. Really? Really? Is it true? Is this really happening? I flipped all the channels. MSNBC, CBS, even Fox called it for Obama. Then I knew. Hope. Real Hope. And after I stopped smiling I cried. 

Tears of joy. I watched Jesse Jackson cry and I cried some more. I saw Oprah cry and cried some more. I called my sisters and cried some more. I saw thousands of strangers of every age and race crying and smiling in Chicago, Atlanta, Times Square. I smiled for the next hour right through McCain's surprisingly articulate and honorable concession speech. 

Then Obama gave his acceptance speech and I found myself crying again. 
For Martin. For Malcolm. For Medgar. 
For Goodman and Cheney and Schwerner. 
For John and for Bobby. 

For all of who have suffered for so long..... A Change Gon' Come!


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