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The Day Everything Changed

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Barack Obama won the election on November 4, 2008. It was a historic day. The weather in Chicago was beautiful--unusually warm for a November day. It was a perfect day for voting. The weather cooperated in Chicago. The Windy City had virtually no wind.

The day God made was peaceful.

It was a superb day for winning an election.

A sea of people (250,000 people, some estimate) went to Grant Park to hear the president-elect of the United States give his acceptance speech not far from where DuSable, the Haitian fur trapper, first landed or where the southern black immigrants arrived at the famous 12th Street Station. Despite the large numbers, election night at Grant Park was calm and orderly. The evening had a spiritual essence. All kinds of people, the famous like Oprah Winfrey, Civil Rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, the ordinary, the powerful and those of foreign descent stood in wonder.

Many cried. Parents and grandparents witnessed the moment in satisfied disbelief because some never thought they would see that moment in their lifetime. Naysayers were converted into believers. Strangers hugged. High fives were in order. And when Obama came to the stage, applause erupted. When the applause died down and the president-elect began to speak with passion, the crowd grew still; you could have heard a snowflake fall to the ground as everyone listened intently. The change had come.

But what does it mean?

Chicago, the city by the lake, is a new city. Hyde Park is now Chicago's most famous community. The city shone on the day Barack won. City workers were out in force--policemen, traffic controllers and sanitation workers--for the most part, they were helpful, watchful and happy. People danced and strolled along Michigan Avenue (where T-shirts, hats and buttons were being sold) and after Obama's speech people went to restaurants and bars. A toast was in order. People partied as they watched the returns. People celebrated like it was a New Year's ball but it was even better because we all knew the celebration was for so much more. History had been made and we saw it happen.

Those who made it happen, the campaign workers, volunteers ... white ones, black ones, old ones, young ones ... all watched with us as it happened.

Barack Obama, whose hair is slightly grayer now, was elegant and majestic as he delivered a flawless acceptance speech; the victory was and is ours. The longest campaign ever had come to an end. The campaign was stellar, raising more money than any candidate in the history of American politics, and introduced a new technology of political marketing like no other. The campaign blazed new trails in cyberspace with daily messages and fundraising and opponents were never able to catch up. Obama connected with the young. The community organizer, who once worked the far South Side, reached his goal, did it his way and the world opened for him. Voting reached record numbers. He is the people's choice.

The job before him is tough. He will be lonely as he walks in the White House with the economy and the war as his burdens. Some will expect miracles from him but we all need to allow him to do his job. He will be a brilliant president. His style is to consult, listen and think a problem through. He will lead by example. The statue of black America rises. America will be united with him and the country's perception will change around the world as the "A" student assumes the powerful seat and the "C" student is removed. The made up, quick study, Alaskan governor who never made good sense goes back home. It's time to handle business.

The modern family with good old-fashioned values takes center stage. We will see darling little girls playing with their long-awaited dog playing in the White House.

They will be the first black American children to play on the front lawn and run through the halls. Michelle Obama takes her place and will make her own history. A new American woman emerges. She will be a fashion plate with values of substance. (I bet she will reach the status of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Princess Diana.) She will show some how to be a wife and a mother. We knew what she meant when she said during the campaign, "I have never been prouder of being an American." She had every right to make that statement. The Obama family has made us proud and will make us prouder in days to come as America's First Family.

Congratulations to all who voted, worked and donated. The people's trust in politics is restored. The country is united. Hope is revived. The dream realized. Chicago will step up to the plate. Black stereotypes will vanish. The minority notion will die. Decency will prevail. And all will be fine because of the man in the White House.

The next big day is January 20, 2009.

God Bless America, Chicago and The Obamas.