Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pride & Disbelief

I am still in disbelief that Obama won yesterday and so proud that he did. We still have a long way to go to see King's promised land, but Obama's election last night shows how far this country has come and how much people really can change. In 1972 one in four Americans would not vote for a black person as President. This year, we are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Only forty years ago, it was essentially legal to allow discrimination in housing in this country! It is amazing.

As wobs noted, my prediction was way off. I made the decision yesterday morning to drive down to Philly to meet up with E. who was already there and knock on some doors. I wasn't going to get anything done anyway and this election was too important not to do anything. I knew things were going to be good last night when EVERY door in Southwest Philly had an Obama "Vote TODAY" door hanger and there were sound trucks with high school students and campaign volunteers rolling down the streets with stereos and music blaring.

E. and I, with our friends and E.'s co-workers Iris and Catherine, knocked on doors all afternoon (well, actually, they went out all day -- I was driving down in the morning). Every door but one that we knocked on and got somebody said that they voted that morning or were on their way to vote that afternoon. And they did, too. Turnout in our division was over 60%, over 66% in the next district over. Everyone on the block knew if their neighbors had voted - helped us by letting us know which houses were vacant and when people got home. We got several "thank yous" for helping to get out the vote that day (Iris and Catherine were, in fact, saluted for their work, literally). No one was annoyed that we kept knocking on doors or were out (except the one guy who's nap we disturbed...can't say I'd be happy either).

Some of the stories were amazing. I talked to another one of E.'s co-workers who told me that he knocked on an older African American woman's door. He said told her that there might be a line and she might have to wait. "Are you kidding," she replied, "I've been waiting for this moment my entire life, I don't care how long I have to wait. I'll bring a chair and a book and I will wait until I get to vote." Iris and Catherine had an amazing exchange with a woman in our district. It was inspirational.

Then, as we were driving back to headquarters just as the polls closed, we heard that Pennsylvania was already called for Obama. We didn't believe it until we got confirmation from three separate sources. The only thing left for us was to try to get back to the City before the elections were called. We raced up the turnpike and got to the NY Hotel and Motel Worker's Trade Council three blocks away from Times Square twenty minutes before the election was called. The room erupted when the polls closed and NBC called the election for Obama. We ran to Times Square to see what was going on there and people were yelling in the street, cabbies honking, bellmen and doormen high-fiving passers-by. We could hear roars from the crowd two avenue-blocks away.

It was a truly amazing day and I am tired today and have had difficult concentrating. My knuckles are still soar(thanks, E.!), but I am so happy.


E. said...

That sounds like a lot of fun. I wish i had been there. What does it mean to have "soar" knuckles? You must be "flying high" on the "winds of change."

Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to you, but actually 3 in 4 people still wont vote for a black man. Obama got 66M votes, out of 220M+ voters* as of 2004. Close enough to 1/4 I think.

Well, they are old enough...

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