President-elect Barack Obama last night in Grant Park.  (Photo: AP)

Hail To The Historical Chief: Barack Obama Elected 44th President Of The United States
By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
November 4, 2008


Tonight history was made in the United States of America as Barack Obama was elected the nation's 44th President, becoming the first black person to be elected to the highest political office in the land.  In a stunning victory, the one-term Democratic Illinois senator was elected by landslide-proportions via the electoral college, 349 to 159 at the time of this writing, with a six percentage-point margin (53%-47%) in the popular vote, or by more than 6.5 million votes, over Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Senator Obama surpassed the feats of many of his fellow Democratic presidential candidate predecessors by winning in states that hadn't been won by Democrats for 40, 50 or even 60-plus years.  By this publishing, MSNBC News had projected that Indiana, a staunchly conservative state that had voted Republican in every presidential election since the 1940's had been won by Senator Obama, a seemingly jaw-dropping impossibility, especially since Indiana had once been the heartbeat of the Ku Klux Klan barely 80 years ago.  Just as remarkable were Mr. Obama's wins in Florida, Ohio and Virginia (which hadn't been won by a Democrat since 1964).

Speaking before hundreds of thousands in Grant Park in his home city of Chicago at just after eleven o'clock local time tonight, the president-elect said that "if there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."  Senator Obama also hailed Senator McCain, who earlier had given a gracious concession speech in Phoenix, Arizona, his home state, praising the next president and calling on his supporters to join Senator Obama and help unify a fractured country battered not only by the divisiveness of a losing campaign but by an tattered economy which has taken a severe toll on millions of Americans.  Throughout his 18-minute address, president-elect Obama evoked Lincoln, Kennedy, King and Reagan. 

Joined on a flag-populated stage by his wife and First Lady-to-be Michelle Obama, vice-president-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill, as well as extended members of the Obama and Biden clans, the president-elect soaked up raucous applause and cheers while John Williams' music score for the film "The Patriot" thundered triumphantly into the night.

Chicago's own, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who made a 2008 Obama presidential run possible with the second of two of his own runs for U.S. president 20 years ago, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey could be seen shedding tears of joy and disbelief both before and during the president-elect's appearance in Grant Park.

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