One year ago today, Barack Obama, a Chicago senator, was elected President of the United States of America. I was at home in our Harlem apartment with hubby and the boys watching CNN. I had never been so glued to an election. I watched as many debates as I could. Unfortunately, I had enrolled in Market Research which was held on Tuesdays from 6-9PM, so did not watch all of the debates (I missed the October 7 debate held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennesse), but the ones I did see, I watched as an engaged viewer.
As the polls closed and results came in, I kept thinking to myself, “Would America really elect a black president?” The race card was forefront in my mind. For so many people it was a huge issue, both a good thing for thousands and considered a bad thing for thousands as well. I listened as Wolf Blitzer read the results as they displayed on the 3-D hologram. Wolf moderated the primary debates as well as Election Night coverage. He seemed to me, the perfect personality for the job. Witnessing the moment was extremely emotional, and Wolf seemed to have an unbiased presentation of the facts. However, his eyes seemed warm with compassion and hope, two things I could not help but associate with the Obama campaign.
I believe it was when Ohio, a battleground state, announced their exit poll results, that I realized Barack Obama was going to be this nation’s 44th president. I looked at our television and saw a shot of Jesse Jackson crying in Grant Park. This photo is included in my Obama Time Capsule, as well as many others that capture a flicker of the emotion this nation felt during Obama’s road to the Whitehouse. I wish I knew exactly what Jesse Jackson was thinking at the time. I can only imagine it was feelings of pride and joy at the accomplishments and barriers broken.
I began cheering and with the crowd on my television in DC. As CNN went to commercial, I could still hear people cheering. I went to the window and opened it, only to realize that Harlem was cheering, too. Hundreds of Americans were shouting, cheering and crying. I ran downstairs and I met our apartment’s doorman outside. We high fived each other and cheered and yelled with the neighborhood. I was so happy to live in a community that was celebrating this moment equally as joyful as I.
Just weeks before this moment, I had awoken at 5 something in the morning to cast my vote for Barack. The church where I voted was so tiny only two people could vote at a time. It was almost an antique voting booth, furnished with a voting lever and buttons (shown on page 110 of my Obama Time Capsule). I am shamed and proud to say, it was the first presidential election in which I had voted. I am ashamed, because I was old enough to vote in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, but yet proud, because I finally engaged in the political movement that swept across America last year. Imagine how much more shameful for those who witnessed the movement and did not register in time.
The next day, November 5, 2008, a friend and I raced around Manhattan to find a copy of the Times. We wanted a souvenir of the historic event frozen in ink. Our efforts proved a waste, for EVERY Times and Wall Street Journal were bought or had been stolen before the papers were even delivered. As if the authors knew about my misfortune, the Obama Time Capsule shows front pages of publications from across the globe on November 5.
So, when I received an offer to promote this book, the Obama Time Capsule, I gladly said yes, because I am comfortable endorsing the first president for which I voted. When the package arrived, Gadget was excited, thinking it was another box of toys from Grandmommie and Grandpa. When I opened the covering and unveiled the hardcover book, Gadget saw the American flag. He immediately recognized its association with the presidency and said “Obama!”
We leafed through the book together, pointing and smiling at pictures of the first family. Michelle is one of my favorite role models. I am so glad she is the first lady, and a relatively young mother at that. I read the book’s dedication aloud, which I was able to customize. The customization is actually what makes this book so special. No one else has one like mine, one that tells Obama’s story through my lens. I saw some of my favorite images of the first family, including one where Michelle rests her head against her husband’s in what looks like a roadside diner. The rawness and realness of the image seems so familiar, so down to earth.
Another favorite photo printed in this book shows the Obama’s sharing a tender moment in a utility shaft. How lucky are we to see a positive image of black love, and so publicly? And so globally? As Gadget and I flipped through the rest of the book he pointed to the president, and the only president he and the Lion have ever really known. I dedicated the book to my boys, which praises the normalcy of Obama as their president. I showed Gadget the page with my self-addressed inauguration invitation, and our family photo printed on the hardcover binding. What an ingenious way to celebrate and honor President Barack Obama’s road to the Whitehouse. From the snapshots of Michelle’s stylish green pumps on January 20, to Obama playing Uno with his daughters, to Obama praying in Minneapolis, to a personalized text message and my name also printed as author, this book is a keeper.