Obama: High Hopes, Risk of Failure

Blacks are pinning their hopes on Obama, but the "dream" may be hard to fulfill.

ByABC News
November 6, 2008, 1:59 PM

Nov. 7, 2008 — -- Lisa Sledge, 41, a single mother of five whose husband died of asthma last year, has a tall order for Barack Obama: clean up her lead-laden, low-rent New York City apartment, fix her failing public schools and create an affordable health-care system.

And rid her neighborhood of drugs, and lower taxes.

Sledge, a black woman, had tears in her eyes at Harlem's Sylvia's restaurant on election night, as she threw her arms around the closest person at the bar -- a young white woman also giddy with Obama's landslide victory.

"We can be friends now!" she said.

Still basking in the glory of America's first black president, blacks across the country are pinning their hopes on an Obama administration, seeing his victory as the ultimate fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King's "dream."

Prominent black leaders, even Republicans like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor Colin Powell, are swelling with pride.

"In 50 years, I have seen my country move so dramatically toward a dream that our Founding Fathers had," an emotional Powell told ABC's Robin Roberts this week.

But many others, including Obama's aides, are tempering voter expectations, knowing that the president-elect cannot be all things to all people -- especially now.

King's sister, Christine King Farris, 81, said the "dream" was still unfinished.

"I am sure that my brother would be pleased, but one of his thoughts would be not to take this for granted because of the struggles and hard work that brought us to this place," she told ABCNews.com.

"This is not like Joe Louis winning the heavyweight championship, this is so much bigger for the whole world," said civil rights leader Andrew Young, 76, who worked alongside King and later served as mayor of Atlanta.

"But black people should not try to claim it," he told ABCNews.com. "He [ ran this campaign] in biracial terms and had none of the scars of segregation, which is why he is able to rise above race."

Coming off one of the most divisive campaigns in history and shoulders deep in an economic crisis, American voters have placed their trust -- and their agendas -- on the man who has promised so much.