Barack Obama's Victory: 'I Never Thought it Would Happen'

Student Ryan Calhoun says he never believed a black man would be president.

Nov. 5, 2008— -- Tuesday, November 4, 2008, is a day that I don't think I will ever forget for as long as I live or for anyone who voted on this day. A day that will be marked in history books forever, the first African-American president was elected. For me, it's a day that I can honestly say that I never thought it would happen, but now I feel that anything can happen.

When I watched President-elect Obama from a live truck monitor in the field I thought back to when I was 7 years old on a third-grade field trip to a camp site.

Our class camped out for three days, and on the first day we were asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. My answer was "a professional athlete" and every other kid looked at me and said, "Yeah, that would be cool."

I 'Never Believed That Was Possible'

The first thing my parents taught me when I was growing up was how to shoot a basketball, hit a baseball and throw a football. But immediately after I answered my question, I will never forget it to this day, a blond girl named Brittany said. "I want to be the first female president."

People in the class just looked around at one another, and I said to myself, "Is that possible. I don't think that's possible?"

I was a young African-American who never believed that was possible nor did it ever cross my mind that I could become president. But now, there are going to be not just African-American children but children from all different backgrounds across the nation, who, when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up, can respond without questioning their answer, "I want to be the president of the United States."

That is what America is all about: having a dream and having the chance to pursue it.

For many, electing Obama restored that dream last night.

Happy to Be Alive

The Declaration of Independence says it all. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

In his speech last night, Obama spoke about 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper, and he spoke about what she has seen in her days on this earth dating back to the civil rights movement and a generation removed from slavery. I always think about what I've seen and what my parents have seen since they grew up as African-Americans during the tail end of the civil rights movement. Just last week, my dad's old basketball coach, Darryl Brazil, spoke about how he played college baseball and he wasn't allowed to go on a trip to play in Louisiana because of the color of his skin.

When I asked him about this election, he simply said, "I'm just happy to be alive right now … life is great."

I always think about what will be remembered about our generation, what will be in history books from our lifetime. I always have a few answers, one of them being 9/11 and other than that, I haven't had anything that would be remembered forever. But now, Nov. 4 … Nov. 4 is that day.

Paving the Way

Tuesday I went to my polling station and spoke to many different young voters who had lined up all the way through the parking lot into the street near the campus. They'd waited for more than an hour to cast their vote, but it was because they felt they had a chance to be a part of history, no matter who was elected.

Last night, my mom sent me a text message last night saying, "Wow, we made history and look at all the history you get to carry forward." I've never seen my mom involve herself in an election, nor have I seen her feel as if she were a part of one, but when she said "we," that meant she felt a part of Obama's campaign. As a journalist, I hope I can carry this history forward, but I know that I wouldn't even have the chance to do so if it wasn't for my ancestors, civil rights leaders and other leaders who demanded equality who came before me, who paved the way so that it could be possible that Barack Obama could reside in the White House.

I say thank you to those leaders: because of you, come Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama, with his wife, Michelle Obama, at his side, will be sworn in as president. Congratulations.