The Peace Corner, 5014 W. Madison St., is a youth drop-in center that ordinarily serves as a place of refuge for community teens after school. However, on Nov. 4, for the first time it was the site of a post-election gala.
A multi-generational crowd exchanged high-fives, hugs, and, at moments, tears as it suddenly became clear that Barack Obama was President-elect of the United States. “I am so proud of Barack and I feel that he will make an immediate impact on the country,” said Betty Robinson, a community activist who volunteered on Obama’s 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate. Robinson said she was inspired to participate in Obama’s campaign after being so impressed with his “charisma, work ethic, and desire to work with all people regardless of their class or personal belief’s. I saw him being someone who was going to make a tremendous impact in politics when I met him four years ago,” she said. “This is what he has worked toward since the beginning.”
One of the promises Obama says he will make once he moves into the Oval Office is to have a bi-partisan cabinet. However, as hotly contested as the race between Obama and Sen. John McCain was, some wonder if that can happen. Robinson believes it will. “Obama knows that in order to fix all that is wrong with the economy he is going to have to have those on both sides of the aisle working toward a common goal,” she said. “Improving the financial state of the country is not a Democratic or Republican issue. We must all do our part.”
Deandre Manuel, program director at the Peace Corner, said the turning point in the campaign was Obama’s inspiring speech at the Democratic Convention where he “redefined the make-up of America and spoke to all sides. He was confident, charismatic and I had faith that he wanted to move the country away from the politics of exclusion and into the era of inclusion. He is the personification of what America is about: A self-made man who set out to make an impact on the world and succeeded. I know things are going to get better.”
Along with celebrating the historic victory, some in the audience talked about Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who passed away on election eve after a long battle with cancer.
However, according to Marquin Gooden, supervisor at Peace Corner, Obama’s huge strength during the campaign was exuding calm and confidence throughout the toughest of moments. Obama, Gooden said, handled his personal tragedy in similar fashion. “He has always been level-headed and encouraging and that’s what we want from a leader. I know he is facing a significant amount of grief right now due to his grandmother’s passing but he has made her proud for sure.”
Before the event was over Obama had already crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold and the landslide was becoming a reality.