Archive for Thursday, November 6, 2008

Residents share reflections from historic night

This 2008 election is one that will forever change history books. Democrat Barack Obama became the nation's first black president-elect. 6News reporter Chardae Davis caught up with leaders from Lawrence's black community on Wednesday to get their reactions to the moment that re-wrote history.

November 6, 2008


Election 2008

In-depth coverage of the candidates and the issues, all leading up to the Aug. 5 primary and the Nov. 4 general election.

When President-elect Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech Tuesday night, northwest Lawrence resident J.R. Demby tapped his chest and said "in my lifetime" while attending a watch party at Abe & Jake's Landing.

As a 51-year-old black man, he always hoped he would see a black person elected president of the United States but was not sure it would happen.

Election night changed that and will change history books forever.

Many people around the country and the world are excited about Obama's win. For some leaders of Lawrence's black community, witnessing the election results was an emotional and affirming moment.

The Rev. Leo Barbee Jr. of Victory Bible Church lived through the civil rights movement. He had been doubtful he would ever see a black person win the presidency, but Obama changed that for him.

"I'm 70 years young," he said. "I've been through a lot of the inequities as an African-American, so I think as an African-American it meant a lot to me to see a (black) man of this caliber become the president of the United States, which probably some thought we would never see."

Barbee believes Obama is a leader the country needs in harsh times.

"With the economic conditions and with the war, I think he's going to be an asset to our country. I really do," he said.

Barbee said from what he has seen, Obama surrounds himself with people who can help him, and he is not afraid to ask for help. He said Obama is concerned about the group rather than himself, which Barbee calls the "spirit of humility."

Progress and perseverance

Kansas State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, always knew she would see a black or female president in her lifetime. While watching results come in Tuesday night, she knew Obama would get enough electoral votes to become president.

"Once Pennsylvania went, and Ohio, at that point you just knew," she said. "You just knew that he was going to get (the electoral votes) he needed. We were just waiting for the magic number."

Ballard believes Obama's win sends a message about progress and perseverance to Americans of all backgrounds. For those who thought the country would never elect a president who happened to be black, she wants to let them know that times have changed.

"For people who said, 'We're not ready for it,' I'd say 'wrong,'" Ballard said. "He was elected. So if you made the call that the country is not ready, the country was ready or they wouldn't have elected him."

Ballard made a point that Obama was not elected by black voters but the entire nation.

"It was all races, all classes," she said. "It was young people that did this. I think when you all come together and you have a common mission, then you can get your person elected, and if you don't spend time worrying about what color the person is and all of that, you're able to maybe accomplish what you want as a group of people and everyone has ownership for it."

Trip to inauguration

Back at Abe & Jake's Landing on Tuesday night, J.R. Demby was text-messaging his daughter throughout the evening about the results.

Demby and his 12-year-old daughter, Rianon Wallace-Demby, plan to make a trip to Washington, D.C., to see Obama sworn in as president. This is a trip he has looked forward to for more than 30 years.

He wants to be a part of the history-making moment and hopes that this election could pave the way for more people of color who aspire to be commander in chief.

"What we witnessed, the nation (and) the world is looked upon as being something unique," he said. "I think of my child's generation, and they will grow up looking at this as being the norm."


angel4dennis 9 years, 5 months ago

ok I have to comment here. Not that it makes a difference to me what color the President is, however Obama's father is from Kenya and his mother is a white woman from Hawaii. So that makes him the first bi-racial president. We are all in some form or another a product of a bi-racial ancestory from 200 years ago. So even though I voted for the other guy because I believed in HIS values and issues, I am already tired of the "race" card.

msway 9 years, 5 months ago

angel4dennis......This is history being made, not the "race card" being played. If McCain would have won we would have the oldest man elected as president and the 1st woman VP (which is great in itself). which would have also been HISTORY. Im quite sure if your guy won, you would not be so quick to say that they're playing the gender card. Because I can asure you that we would be celebrating the fact the a woman was in the White House NOT as a first lady. But that did not happen. And please.....we all know most black people have some other race in them beacuse of slavery. ....yes he is biracial, but when you or someone else looks at him, they see a BLACK man.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 5 months ago

It looks to me like one of the individuals who was interviewed has "ditched" his beliefs on some issues because Obama happens to be half black.I heard this person say many, many times that he believes in the right to life of the unborn. Obama does not. The same person has been very vocal about his being against homosexuality and being strongly against gay rights.(Which, btw, I support equality for gays, even though I'm conservative)Does this change of position(s) intrigue anyone else besides me?

linziinsf 9 years, 5 months ago

angel4dennis, S. Ann Soetoro was from Kansas not Hawaii. And the choice to add a "but" or "however" after "Not that it makes a difference to me what color the President is" automatically stinks of racism. That's equivalent to saying, "I'm not racist but..." What this country so loudly proclaimed two days ago was that the race card is no longer part of the deck and we are tired of old white men running our country. My generation and the generations behind me are ready for a country that reflects OUR values and issues.

mom_of_three 9 years, 5 months ago

His website said he was the first african american man to head the Harvard law Review. It listed a few other firsts as well. Although he may see himself as bi-racial, people around him have always identified him as african american and maybe he identifies with them more or has been accepted by them more. I don't know. It doesn't matter to me. But it does matter to those who don't like the color of his skin.

HootyWho 9 years, 5 months ago

Glad he got elected,,,,I watched history unfold before my eyes,,,He is a man, we need to stop with the prefixes.Also,,i'm glad its over,,,,2 yrs of political crap got old 11/2 yrs ago,,,

Confrontation 9 years, 5 months ago

Seriously, cheese, that doesn't matter. Many people disagree with McCain, but they voted for him because of the abortion issue or his skin color. The same thing happens in every election. Does it make sense that a welfare mom would vote for McCain, who wants to cut welfare funding? No. However, she'd do it because she has 10 babies and is against abortion. You pick the topics that are most important to you, and then you vote based on that. If it's race, then so be it.

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