by Drew J Jones
Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 05:16:16 PM EST
I remember the moment David Gregory said on MSNBC to the interviewee, "Ohio has gone for Obama," and thinking, "Oh my god, this is going to happen." Jen and I were sitting in our dumpy little studio apartment in Alexandria. I had the window cracked open, chain-smoking, in hopes of not alerting the landlord (since we weren't supposed to smoke in the apartments but I didn't want to have to take the elevator down 16 floors every five minutes). They called Virginia, where I lived at the time (EuroTrib's own MareckNYC a part of the crew who made that happen), and Florida, where I'm from. Being a liberal white guy from the South, with all its history, I could not have been prouder. I remember Olbermann getting choked up as he said, "Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America."
I remember seeing this cartoon by Tom Toles in the Washington Post, on my way on the Metro through Southeast DC -- the heart of the black working class in America -- to the Census Bureau, and seeing the looks on the faces of black Americans, many of whom probably thought that day would never come.
That morning, along with the cartoon, I read an article about a man from the east side of the Anacostia in the WaPo, who visited the grave of his aunt on election night. They were both politically-minded, and she'd told him his whole life that America was too racist, too closed, to ever elect a black man to that office. She never lived to see that night. Even as a kid he pushed back at her. "It's going to happen," he said. Because he believed in the fundamental decency of people.
The reporter followed him to the cemetery on election night, and he stood over her grave, crying, and said to her, "I told you."
"I told you it would happen."