'Everything is Different'
By Peter Slevin
CHICAGO -- Mykela Loury wept.
The Chicago doctor stood alone on a sidewalk far from the cheering throngs in Grant Park. She put her hand to her mouth, then both hands to her temples, her mouth open in a silent gasp.
"I'm thinking justice, finally. Fairness, finally," said Loury, an African American physician. "Oh, gosh."
The tears came again.
The news of Barack Obama's victory traveled as fast as a shout through the Chicago night. When it came, suddenly and with certainty, car horns blared and supporters shouted and laughed and screamed and hugged one another and laughed some more.
"He won! He won!"
"Oh, my god!
"Did he win? He won!"
Ephraim Martin hurried toward the entrance to the celebration, hoping to catch Obama's speech. Born in Jamaica, he has spent the last 28 years in Chicago, where he has recently watched as America's image abroad has plunged.
"This is the best thing that has happened to us as a nation, as a people," Martin said. "Now there's hope. There's hope."
Obama's election, and the speech that followed, fired the spirit of his followers, some of whom had greeted his candidacy with a measure of skepticism. Others simply had not dared to let themselves fully believe he could win, afraid of disappointment.
Then it happened.
"This shows America has become her true self. It's more of a perfect union," said Michael Smith, a Chicago carpenter's steward who volunteered for Obama in Iowa. "His speech lets us know that it's not just him. It all comes down to those three words: Yes we can."
Tracy Boykin had longed for the news, but she could hardly believe it.
"We're finally free," said Boykin, walking with her friend Caron Warnsby as the celebrations began. "I'm a doctor and I don't have to walk in anymore and be a black doctor. She's not the black surgeon anymore. She's the surgeon. Everything is different."
Web Politics Editor
November 5, 2008; 1:39 AM ET
Categories: B_Blog , Barack Obama
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