Where Were You When You Heard the US Had Elected Its First African American President Barack Obama?

  • Published on November 5th, 2008

We Have Overcome at Obama celebration in Grant ParkThere is no doubt that yesterday’s US presidential election was a historic event. No matter who you supported in the race, the fact that Americans elected a multiracial president is a significant event in a country where African Americans were once slaves.  It is an event that will be remembered for generations around the world, and people will remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard Barack Obama was the President-Elect of the United States of America.

I voted by absentee ballot, as there are no polling places in my tiny, mountain community.  On election day, I was headed home from a quick trip to Seal Beach, CA.  In order to avoid traffic, my twelve hour drive home began at 4:30 am.  As I drove by McCain/Palin signs in Republican Orange County and the vast farm lands of I-5, I began to doubt an Obama victory. We listened to talk radio, from conservative to liberal stations on the satellite, before finally setting on the BBC.  Hearing callers from around the world share their excitement and hope that Obama would win, I was moved at how this man has reached out to the world with the same message of hope and change he has given the American people. 

When we arrived home and turned on the TV, the polls had just closed on the east coast.  As the states started turning blue, I became more excited.  My four-year-old son started doing the movements for O-H-I-O, common at Buckeye football games, when Obama won the state of Joe the Plumber.  We bounced between CNN, the Daily Show, the networks, and Fox News to get a variety of information.  On Fox News, I was abhorred to hear the announcer say voters reported race was a factor in their vote for Obama, but that exit polls showed McCain won votes amongst people who didn’t care about race.  The announcer implied Barack only won because of his race alone.  His race does give this election historical significance, but his policies, intelligence, ideals, etc. are what got him elected.  Exhausted from our trip, I waited for the polls to close on the west coast. At 8:01 PM, Obama was announced the winner, and I went to bed.  As I slept, Obama told the world:

This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

Obama has impassioned voters with promises of hope and change.  Not only is this election significant because of race, but this will be a turning point in US history.  The US may just become a country where the “American Dream” means economic equality and health care for all, instead of a place where the rich majority takes advantage of the working class.  America may become the world leader in peace and human rights, as well as solving climate change and energy issues.  Not only did Obama win last night, but the environment won too.  President-Elect Obama, I have a lot of hope in your administration…don’t let me down.  Today is the first day in almost eight years that I have felt proud to be an American.

Unlike tragic events, such as the bombing of the World Trade Center or when JFK was shot, this election is a historical memory to cherish.  So where were you at this defining moment in US history?

Image: Huffington Post

About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play (http://ecochildsplay.com) "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog: http://reallynatural.com


  • I was @ an Irish Pub in Mendocino, CA. This being the first election that I have lived in a blue state and a very liberal area, I was very excited to be among so many like-minded folks. The mood was very celebratory, lots of cheering and toasts were made, and many were teary-eyed and smiling during Obama's speech. It was great to be a part of such a historic election, and I'm so glad to see this country embrace the change we so desperately need. Let's just hope Obama lives up to his campaign promises…

  • I have been goose bumps reading your stories. I wish I could have heard the cheers in the streets! I loved how Jon Stewart said last night people were making eye contact in the streets of NYC.

  • Yes, it was so exciting for us to hear of Obama becoming our next President! It will always be a

    fond memory. We were in downtown Portland Oregon

    and there were cheers and chanting of "Yes we can."

  • I was trapped at home with my leg high in the air, recovering from surgery from a broken ankle. I missed every party and didn't hear a single person cheering on the street in my quiet neighborhood. I still won't believe Obama won until I can go outside again.

  • My wife and I watched it all unfold on TV from the East Coast. 11pm rolled around and they finally called it. We struggled to stay awake through midnight but felt we had no other option than to watch a historic speech. We were blessed with 2 – John McCain's was the most gracious resignation speech ever. Simply a class act. I always liked the guy (living in AZ for many years), but he really is a class act.

    But to hear the Obama speech live on TV was really awesome. And I mean that as in creating "awe" not that it's "cool". In the last 20 years of my adult life I have been there to watch many things live: the shuttle "late for arrival" as I read the ticker, the breaking news of a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center and people wondering why, the shock and awe attack on Iraq, and many others. But to watch something as hopeful and positive live on TV was incredible. It makes me realize how the last generation felt when they talk about where they were when man landed on the moon.

  • I was plastered to the television surfing between 6 or 7 cable and broadcast networks as well as following returns online. And yes, I'm a total political geek. Made a martini to celebrate.

  • I was at a friend's dorm, and we had been watching CNN's election tracker online. It had been a while since I had checked it, and my girlfriend called and said "we have a president". My friends and I checked the tracking, and saw Obama had a very decisive lead, and shouted out the window that he won. Soon we heard shouting and screaming, and when we went outside, there was a huge group of people on each side of the street going through our campus, celebrating. We joined in, and soon after, they went into the street and walked through the town while the police followed, blocking off streets for the crowd. I was so proud of my generation that night.

  • When I heard about obama becoming the next president, I cried myself to sleep. I will be depressed for a while. I may never watch the news again, in less something happens, I may watch movies every night of the week, and go to Disneyland, and try to escape from reality!!!

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