One Obama supporter, the first elected African-American mayor of Macon, Ga., knows all too well about being targeted by racists.
The day after he was elected in 1999, Jack Ellis says he "was out thanking voters on the street and I reached out to shake a white gentleman's hand. And he looked in my eye and said, 'A n***** will never be my mayor.' I told him, 'I will be the mayor of all the people, including you.' The last time that happened was in the Army, and I hit the guy in the nose."
Ellis also received notes laced with violent threats, and racists threw bricks through windows of his campaign office and tossed trash on his lawn.
"The racism was more severe than I anticipated, and it jolted me that it could be so blatant, that some people couldn't get beyond it," he says. "There are a percentage of white people in this state and elsewhere who cannot bring themselves to vote for a [black] candidate."
Ellis, 62, remembers the days of segregation when he was forced to use water fountains labeled "colored," and he believes Obama will be able to bridge the gaps.
"If race is a dominant part of the campaign, and it seems to be becoming part of it every day, you can't ignore it," he says, "but you need to look for people who are right-thinking and who can move beyond it."