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Obama Candidacy Resonates with Black Voters in NY


New York City is heavily Democratic and Senator Barack Obama is expected to do well Tuesday in the city and throughout the state. VOA's Margaret Besheer talked to voters outside a polling center in Harlem and files this report.

In this traditionally African American and Hispanic enclave, many voters say they hope this will be an historic vote and the country's first black president will be elected.

Many voters said they cast their ballots early this morning, but at mid-day the line outside this community center, which is this neighborhood's polling station, barely extended outside the front door.

Sixty-two year old Carmen, who happened to be walking by, says she was in line to vote at 5:30 this morning - a half hour before the polls opened. She says she voted for Barack Obama and for what she hopes will be real change.

"We need it [change]," said Carmen. "Especially the poor people. We really need it. It has been eight hard years, we can't get another four. Impossible."

For many young African Americans in this mostly lower income neighborhood, Barack Obama's candidacy represents not just hope for this country, but also for them personally.

Thomas, 36, is a graphic designer. "Now when your grandmother tells you that, baby you can be the president of the United States, hey, you don't have to look at her doubtful now," he said. "You can say it is the truth."

But Joshua, another young African American man, points out that part of Obama's appeal is that he transcends racial lines.

"It also proves a lot to how many black people are behind Barack Obama, but also how many white people are behind Barack Obama - that's also a startling change that a lot of black people notice," he said.

Joshua also credited Obama's candidacy for encouraging those who had not been engaged in the electoral process before to become involved.

"It is exciting to see so many people engaged in the electoral process," he said. "It is exciting to see people that were feeling disenfranchised or feeling that they weren't part of the process, exercising their American right to vote."

Voters in Harlem say they worry about the same issues that concern most other Americans - the economy, jobs, their retirement savings and the war in Iraq.

They say they are ready for change on a big-scale, and they hope Barack Obama will be the man to deliver it.

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