Election Night: Joy in Chicago and Pain in Phoenix

Nov 30th, 2008 | By ffolwell | Category: Latest News

By Gao Wenhuan (Eliot)

Chicago, Illinois - On election night, more than 125,000 people stormed into Chicago’s Grant Park to join the rally and witness the historic moment of Barack Obama becoming the first African American to win the presidency.

At around 10 p.m. local time, when CNN announced the closing of polls in California, a breaking news headline immediately jumped onto the huge television screen set up in Grant Park: “Obama wins presidential election.”

Tens of thousands of spectators shouted in unison, “Yes, we can,” which was a main slogan of Obama’s campaign.  They screamed, cried, applauded, and hugged each other as reality set in:  their candidate had won and there would be a Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress.

About one hour later, Obama arrived at Grant Park and stood behind a bulletproof shield to address his supporters.  “Above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to.  It belongs to you,” he said, as cheers and chants of “Yes we can” came from all directions.

Kwabena Kumi and his wife, Camile, cried and hugged each other during Obama’s speech.  As Americans from Ghana, they said Obama’s winning reminds them of change and hope.  “I can tell my children and grandchildren that they can also become the president of the United States,” said Kwabena Kumi.

After Obama’s speech, the crowd refused to disperse and continued to chant Obama’s name and “Yes, We can,” as they waved American flags.  A large number of Chicago police attempted to move the crowd out of Grant Park.  On the street, strangers, black and white, young and old, hugged each other, talking about the change that will come to the United States.

“Obama’s victory gives America the opportunity to be back on track.  During President Bush’s eight years, he started wars and wasted a huge amount of taxpayers’ money,” said Lubirda Cooper, an accountant who lives only four blocks away from Obama’s residence in Hyde Park. 

She doesn’t expect the Democratic administration to change America overnight but she is proud that a black person could win the presidency.

By Hua Qi (Sara)

Phoenix, Arizona - I was in the ritzy Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, as CNN started to broadcast the results of the presidential election on Nov. 4.  From the lobby, conference rooms and the courtyard lawn, reporters on large TV screens were announcing the vote tally from around the United Stat5es.

Thousands crowded into the Biltmore ballroom hoping for a McCain victory.  As CNN and other TV networks projected more states going for Barack Obama, the crowd of supporters for Senator John McCain became more anxious.  

Ladies, wearing fancy evening clothes, put down their wine glasses and began to shout, “Fox, Fox.”  Five minutes later, the channel on the large TV screens was changed to the more conservation – and pro-Republican – Fox News Channel.

Around 9 p.m. Phoenix time, a spokesperson came out to announce McCain was going to give a concession speech in the garden of the hotel. Crowds started mobbing in that direction.

I was among those pushing in line to see McCain. A few minutes later, he showed up and gave a very eloquent concession speech.  Still, some in the crowd held out hope.

A woman in front of me was talking on her cell phone in a trembling voice:  “It’s not over yet.  He still has a chance,” she was saying, as McCain was congratulating president-elect on his victory.

As McCain told supporters that he called Obama to congratulate him, some people started to cry.

Terry Dado from California stood quietly at the edge of the crowd. He told me he was worried about his country.   “I will support Obama; he is our president now. But I still have concerns about his policies,” he said.

 A woman in a red dress, tears in eyes, leaned on the shoulder of her husband, as they moved toward the exit of the Biltmore ballroom. I noticed that “McCain for President” T-shirts still were on sale outside.

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