Senator Barack Obama has been chosen by the American people to be the 44th president of the United States. President-elect Obama is also the first African American to become the nation's chief executive. This historic milestone was celebrated with intense hope and pride in Harlem, the mostly black New York City district many consider to be the cultural capital of African American life. VOA's Adam Phillips was there.
The thousands of African Americans who gathered on 125th Street, Harlem's main thoroughfare, to celebrate President-elect Obama's decisive victory on Tuesday night could not contain their joy that one of their number had been chosen to be the lead the nation. A young woman named Joy had come from Brooklyn, a subway ride away.
"We are so excited. Black people are just overwhelmed and very grateful. We worked very, very hard. We are just happy to see a black man in office. I thought it would never happen," she said.
This young man said Obama's election made the future brighter for all African American youth.
"Everybody born after this day is gonna grow up thinking they can do anything they want. The greatest man in the world - that's the president. I could be that way in 20 years. I ain't old yet! " he exclaimed.
Jareau Hall, another Harlemite, seemed calm. Yet his broad grin said it all.
"I'm trying not to get too emotional," he said. "This was probably one of the best nights of my life, right now. [And] being here in Harlem, I don't think anything could really compare."
"Mark," from the neighboring borough of Queens, was also jubilant, but recognized that lots of hard work lies in store for the new president-elect - and for all Americans.
"It feels good to be a black man, tonight," he said. "This is an opportunity that I'm sharing. I'm glad I'm able to see this today, my brother. I know it's going to be a long time to get everything back on the path, but I believe he got the energy and the power to do it."
With a solid bloc of fellow Democrats in Congress, Barack Obama will have much the political clout necessary to enact an ambitious agenda to deal with the many challenges he will face. He will also draw on the public good will new presidents traditionally enjoy early in their administrations. As the nation looks ahead to January 20, when President-elect Obama takes office, one thing is clear: he's got the people of Harlem behind him all the way.