“[And] I say this as someone skeptical of how he could change the electoral map,” added Cabral, who initially supported New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. But, she added, “he used repetition and familiarity to gain voters,” particularly through Internet outreach, which helped the Illinois senator build the coalition that put him over the top.
The strength of Obama’s support was evident throughout Boston on Tuesday.
At Boston Middle School Academy in Dorchester, married couple Ora and Charlie Green stood ready to cast their ballots for Obama — and because they decided to head to the polls at noon, they didn’t have to stand too long.
“There are so many things I like about Barack and what he’s trying to do,” said Ora Green, 71. “And I think he is for everyone. I think he can bring this country together. … That’s one of the things I would like to see happen here in America, ‘cause we are too divided. With Republicans, Independents and Democrats together, I think it would be a better country for all of us.”
Then, she uttered a phrase that has passed the lips of many community elders.
“I didn’t think I would ever see the day that we would have an African American [president],” she said.
Charlie Green, Ora’s 84-year-old husband, echoed his wife’s point.
“[Obama] would bring a lot of pride into the system and abroad too,” he said.
He also appeared to bring a lot of voters into the system. Aristides Colon was one of them.
Colon, a 57-year-old resident of the Washington Manor Apartments who moved to the United States from his native Puerto Rico 42 years ago, admitted that he would not have voted if he didn’t think Obama had a good chance to win. Once at the polls, Colon participated in some of the state’s other races, voting for Sonia Chang-Díaz in the state Senate’s Second Suffolk District, against the repeal of the state income tax and for the decriminalization of the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Azzeddine Boutioure, like Colon, came to America from overseas years ago. The migrant from Morocco exercised his right to vote on Tuesday, casting a ballot near his home in Revere.
“This is my second time in eight years to vote,” said Boutioure, a barber at Salih’s Barbershop in Jamaica Plain.
Boutioure said he spoke to his father in Morocco last night, where “everybody’s watching the news” and rooting for an Obama victory.
“Everybody’s waiting for this change overseas,” he said.
And so is Boutioure, who said he was for “Obama all the way” and saw the prospect of an Obama win as “opportunity to take care of immigrants” as well as provide health insurance “everyone can afford.”
“We would like to see things better for this country,” he said. “I would like a change.”
To Michael Grohall, the contest between Obama and McCain was “not just an election between two people; it’s an election between two philosophies.”
The Egleston Square resident, whose parents live in Republican running mate Gov. Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, shared his take on the campaign as he sat down for a haircut at Salih’s after voting on Tuesday. He said he thinks an Obama presidency would present “a new way to view foreign policy, domestic policy and race relations.”
“Being white, this election campaign has been an opportunity [for me] to reflect on what that means,” Grohall added. “I think about what it will do historically.”
Grohall thinks that even if an Obama presidency doesn’t make groundbreaking changes to national policy, the fact of Obama’s holding the office as an African American man would have an important impact for the country.
“This is truly a country taking a step forward,” he said. “The effect Obama’s had on people, letting them know they can be involved — as opposed to [following] an old white guy” represents a move toward “psychological equality” between people of color and white people.
“That has been the most moving thing to me,” he said. “The fact that we will have elected a black man president, the highest office in this country … is like a form of reparations.”
To Marshfield resident Aqil Alghizzy, an artist and a barber at Salih’s, this election was about “giving change a chance” — in particular, a change from the “white, closer to pro-Christian way of running the show.”
“Thank God for George Bush,” Alghizzy said. “Without the last eight years, Obama and Hillary Clinton … wouldn’t be close to this election, never mind have the chance to win.”
Like his co-worker Boutiore, Alghizzy is an immigrant, though he doesn’t consider himself one anymore.
“I feel more like a Bostonian than [many],” said Alghizzy, who came to the United States from Iraq more than 15 years ago. “I consider myself at home and work here.
“This is my country and I am proud to exercise my No. 1 right of going to vote.”
Yet, he added, “this [was] the first time I felt moved to” do so.
“I saw a good reason to take the time off from work and go and vote for a good man,” he said.
On Tuesday, millions of voters in Massachusetts and across the nation made it clear that they saw just what Alghizzy did. And as Darnell Williams put it at a Roxbury Community College rally on Monday night, the image is the realization of a dream that continues to inspire Americans of all colors.
“Martin marched so Barack could run,” said the president and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. “This is not a pride thing; it’s an American thing.”
Talia Whyte contributed to this story. Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.
The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his historic triumph by defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa. More »
Over the past year, Obama — a freshman U.S. senator — has vanquished a
Democratic powerhouse, shattered all fundraising records with a
campaign that has collected more than $640 million, swatted away the
he’s-too-inexperienced mantra voiced by seasoned rivals and made
history by becoming the first black presidential nominee of a major
party and the first African American president-elect. More »
Over the past year, Obama — a freshman U.S. senator — has vanquished a Democratic powerhouse, shattered all fundraising records with a campaign that has collected more than $640 million, swatted away the he’s-too-inexperienced mantra voiced by seasoned rivals and made history by becoming the first black presidential nominee of a major party and the first African American president-elect. More »
Blacks are already surging to the polls in parts of the South, according to initial figures from states that encourage early voting — a striking, though still preliminary sign of how strongly they will turn out nationwide for Barack Obama in his campaign to become the first African American president. More »