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Black voters express new hope from Pres. Obama win

19th November 2012   ·   0 Comments — Just over a week since President Barack Obama won re-election to the White House and Black voters around the country are not only still reeling over the win, but contemplating the significance of the next four years.

“People don’t understand really, what Obama means to us, to the African-American population. They don’t get how proud we are. It’s okay though. It’s different with President Obama. I feel a connection with him, love for him, he is one of us,” said Fabie Nathalie Lucas of Stafford, Va., a student at Virginia Com­mon­wealth University. “Not only will Barack Obama be inaugurated on Martin Luther King Day [Jan. 21], but 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. The amount of pride I feel inside can’t be explained.”

Virginia, as a swing state, was watched closely on election night as was Florida, with a reputation of voting problems, and Ohio, without which no Republican has ever won the presidency. President Obama won all three states.

The nail biter of an election night has now given way to pride in the Black community of which more than 93 percent of voters supported Obama. But the significance of the Obama win isn’t all about racial pride.

Seth Lumpkin, a 29-year-old small business owner from the Lorain, Ohio, area voted for the good of business owners.

“My business is dependent on mostly middle-class people since I’m in the inner city and my business is located in Cleveland, Ohio,” he said. “The feeling is good, knowing that the middle class won tonight.”

Lumpkin continues to have hope that Obama will use the next four years to get everything done that needs to be done for this country.

“Hopefully whatever things he feels he fell short on he can fix. I was relieved for a lot of people who are less fortunate that Oba­ma was re-elected.”

To vote in America was once a right that African Americans and women were forced to wait on and then fight for. The significance of every election — and moreover the election of an African-American amidst contention — highlights why Americans should continue to be proud, says Retired U. S. Air For­ce MSgt. Kimberley Agnew-Tobiere.

“In the last year, I have seen the America that I serve, protect, and defend reveal itself as a racist country,” she says. “It saddens me because we have sent millions of our service members, our children, our sons and our daughters over to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight for the rights of people who cannot vote and make their own decisions; and we are in a country where we have companies threatening their employees with termination of their employment if they vote for President Barack Obama. I am just thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly disappointed.”

Among others, Robert Murray, chief executive of Ohio-based coal provider Murray Energy Corp. in fact laid off 150 employees last week, keeping his promise to cut jobs if Obama was re-elected. Murray, with about 3,500 employees, says the layoffs will be ongoing because of what he calls Obama’s “war on coal.”

Actually, the Obama administration has expressed concerns about the health and environmental hazards of coal, including the effects of coal ash. The President is pushing for what environmentalists call “clean coal.”

There is much anticipation for the next four years and how President Obama will deal with economic hardships. In addition to the Black vote, the youth vote is largely credited for his win. Youth voted for Obama 60 percent to 36 percent for Mitt Romney.

“Granted, I don’t necessarily agree with everything that either candidate put forth, but I’m happy that the president was re-elected because I do agree with the majority of his policies and I felt that he would be the better candidate to lead this country out of debt and into prosperity,” says Marion Jenkins,19, a Howard University student from Detroit.

The enthusiasm among young voters will no doubt continue as they hope for continued cuts in educational costs and increases in Pell Grants.

Erwin Sweetwine, 20, an unemployed junior biology student at Morehouse College, voted for the first time.

“I was so excited to see so many of my Morehouse brothers at the polling stations,” he said. “Knowing that each and every one of our votes counted, we stood there in the rain.”

But, it’s not just the youth who are excited. Lisa Roberson, a 46-year-old Belleville, Mich. resident and mother of three expresses the sentiment that many felt leading up to Election Night.

Dina Ridley, 45, a stay-at-home mother of four college students, was barely able to speak as she awaited the results. Suddenly, after a thunderous scream, she shouted, “Oh my goodness! This is truly history in the making. God is good. We did it!”

For some the “we” refers to Black voters. To others, the “we” refers to pride in America.

“I’m adulated. I’m happy. I’m excited. This is what I hoped for. I’m satisfied with the fact that America has spoken and they want the leadership of a man of color, which is very important,” said Ricky Allen, a Portland, Oregon Public Schools administrator and 56-year-old husband and father of two.

His wife, Deborah, a Kaiser Permanente Public Health Nurse, is equally exuberant. “I am elated, ecstatic, proud, happy, overjoyed, filled with passion and thanking God! I had to take a deep breath when they said Barack Obama. I am very proud of America.”

This story was compiled from interviews by Howard University journalism students.

This article originally published in the November 19, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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