Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Did you think this would ever happen?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 2:14 PM

McCain's concession speech wasn't just gracious. He also managed to pivot from the narrow perspective of the moment to generously recognize the magnitude of this election. From AP:

"[Obama's] success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance," McCain said, adding that he "deeply admired" Obama for inspiring the hopes of people "who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence" in electing a president."

Unsurprisingly, Obama's victory speech took things even higher by elevating his "Yes We Can" mantra into a tight expression of the American spirit.

But after blogging all-evening and jumping frenetically from website to website, I finally felt the significance of the moment when I heard the honking begin on Peachtree outside a Midtown condo.

They were short, cheerful beeps — often three in a row to evoke the beat of "Yes We Can.'"

Atlantans celebrate outside Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue.
  • Atlantans celebrate outside Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue.

People were looking for the celebration, but it seemed different from any other celebration by a winning side in a presidential campaign. By 1:30 a.m., there was a traffic jam, but none of the honks or yells were let loose in anger — they were expressions of joy. (For more evidence of the same thing, take a look at Thomas Wheatley's marvelous photos from the celebration early this morning in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church. That's one above.)

The drivers and riders came in all colors, but it seemed to me that every honk from an African-American driver had a special significance — a kind of pride and relief that this could happen.

Whatever your political beliefs, this is a special moment for America. It's very occurrence makes a difference – even before Obama takes office. I'd love know what you're thinking as you witness the crossing of the ultimate threshold in American politics.

I am 49 years old. Before I heard Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I thought a black man might be elected president in my lifetime — but I would have told you it was unlikely. That night four years ago, he made me think it was more likely. But tell, did you think this would ever happen?

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