US election night in the deep south

Posted on November 13, 2008
Filed Under Commentary, Travel | Leave a Comment

            On our drive to Florida, we spent the night of November 4 in Charleston, South Carolina. Again, dark rainy weather spoiled the bridge view of the significant harbour and discouraged a proper visit.

            On the other hand, we were eager to get to a TV and watch the results of the US presidential election. In our hotel rooftop dining room and lounge, everyone was watching. It being South Carolina, many of the diners were not at all enthused about Barak Obama’s success.

            Michelle overheard one woman say “I just wish I could wake up in the morning and see that everything came out the way I wanted!”

            The wait staff, all Afro-American, were having a difficult time containing themselves and presenting a disinterested visage to the clientelle. One waitress broke into what perhaps could be most properly described as a skip as she burst through the swinging doors to the kitchen. As the door closed behind her, we hear her exclaim “Gobama!’ as if it were one word.

            It seemed politic for two Canadians to keep a low profile. Imagine how we would feel if two foreigners were celebrating a Parti Quebecois referendum victory in Quebec. It was quite overwhelming to be in the heart of the South at such a time.

            Moving up to our room, we accidentally found CBC TV’s Peter Mansbridge and Susan Ormiston reporting from Canada. There are two C-span channels and one of them was carrying the CBC coverage.

            Mostly though, we saw the same coverage you did in Canada that night and next morning. ABC seemed the most compelling.

            We saw the lovely young woman with the little boy trying not to totally choke up as she beamed love at him and said how much it meant to her to be able to say that he could grow up to be president and actually believe it.

            We saw the woman talking about how it meant to her that her slave ancestors helped build the steps of the Capitol building where Obama will stand to take the oath of office as President of the United States.

            On National Public Radio the next day, we heard one man suggest that Obama’s election was the final gift to the world from the baby boomer generation. He suggested that, as the boomers move off stage, the generation they produced produced the prize for all the civil rights marches and protests the 60’s activists and radicals, black and white, had conducted and the atrocities they endured.

            As an observer from that time, I remember the excitement of those years and the agony of seeing one after another of its heroes assassinated. Jack and Robert Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and even Malcolm X were all men whose lives were taken in the effort that now got Barak Obama to the White House.

I think the consensus of that generation is a devout hope that Obama will be a brilliant, honourable, president who survives to add value and honour to all the warriors who struggled for this day.



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