Stories From Election Day

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Oh yes, Ellen was getting to the polls this day no matter what. It was with pride that Ellen, who is also fondly known as Gracie, had her attendant wheel her into the voting booth where Gracie pulled the lever with all her might so that she could make certain her vote earned her a place in history.

[Post Election 2008]

 

Ellen Banks, a 96 year old African American woman, waited impatiently for her homecare worker to wheel her to the voting booth.

No longer able to walk as well as she once did, Ellen swore there was no way she was going to miss her opportunity to pull the lever for her candidate. After all, she had lived long enough to see seven wars. And, now, there was the chance of having an African American president; something she never expected she would live to see. Could life be any sweeter!

Oh yes, Ellen was getting to the polls this day no matter what. It was with pride that Ellen, who is also fondly known as Gracie, had her attendant wheel her into the voting booth where Gracie pulled the lever with all her might so that she could make certain her vote earned her a place in history.

Inside the lobby of her building, 94 year old Sylvia Fishbein, who is Jewish, was thinking what a great day it was for America. Many things had brought her to that voting booth, memories of a time in 1949 when she and her husband traveled to Biloxi, Ms., and were sickened by the discrimination against African Americans.

She thought back then it was a terrible way to treat human beings and now 59 years later she was thrilled and determined to strike her blow for humanity. Her daughter Eleanor Newirth, moved by her mother’s determination to vote, stated that her mother saw this as a victory for America. "This has opened up the floodgates," remarked Eleanor. "How little we have had to accept from this country. As Americans we have accepted the pitting of people against one another and lost sight of the fundamentals by which this country was established. Through the election of Barack Obama, I see an America being restored to its potential."

This spirit and hope was being felt abroad.

Overseas, the Acapella group "Take 6," had the unique advantage of touring Europe while the election in America was underway. They witnessed first hand the reaction of the peoples of France, Spain, and Italy. They saw the jubilation that coursed through Europe as a Black man won the highest office within America.

A man they hoped could heal America and turn around the mean spirit of the Bush years. While Americans speculated whether Obama’s mixed heritage would be the catalyst that healed the rift that torn asunder a country divided by racial tension, Alvin Chea, of Take 6, gave his take on race in America: "I think that Obama’s rich heritage is key in helping him to appreciate different races, cultures and ethnicities and their particular gifts and challenges. The melting pot which is found within Obama’s bloodstream makes him sympathetic to a broader spectrum of the community," said Chea whose group has won 10 Grammy Awards and recently released their latest CD, entitled The Standard. "I think people in general, tire of conflict and the many different walls which have divided us. I believe that people of color are proud of their fellow Americans for having the courage to pick the best candidate regardless of his pigmentation. We as a society have come a long way."

While on tour "Take 6" has noticed an outpouring of love from Europeans, especially when they tell them they are bringing the greetings of Obama to them. Americans abroad occasionally commented they felt the George Bush era strained relations between America and Europe. "Personally, I never felt embarrassed to travel as an American. I did however feel that Americans were seen as complicit with George Bush’s international hubris. I saw that all change the night of the elections. Literally, people from Spain, to Germany and France were congratulating us in the streets as we walked. They have a glimmer of hope, too!" remarked Chea of the prevailing European attitude since the election. "The French were jubilant--they applauded and stomped their feet when we announced, ‘We bring you greetings on behalf of President-elect Barack Obama.’ They whooped and cheered."

Chea added: "In my opinion, the most important issue in this year's election is the economy. The failures of George Bush's unregulated trickle-down voodoo economic system has manifested at the gas pump, check-out line, and on Wall St. What's amazing to me is this whole notion that if no one in the current administration refers to our current financial mess as a ‘recession,’ then it ceases to be so. Ronald Reagan's Voodoo Economics has been replaced by W's Ostrich economics."

"I would like to see folks like Colin Powell, Warren Buffett or perhaps even enlisting Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to create a safe error proof system modernizing our Air Traffic Control system," Chea continued. "Let’s do the same thing for the electronic voting infrastructure now that we have finally shaken off voter apathy …let’s make it easy for people to stay engaged in the process," said Alvin who shares the spotlight with Mark Kibble, Claude V. McKnight III, Dr. Cedric Dent, Joey Kibble, and David Thomas, the other members of the Take 6 sextet whose careers were launched via their mastery of vocal harmonies and singing of traditional spirituals and gospel. Although, Take 6 has spent the last two decades crafting records that embrace a cross-section of styles that include soul, gospel, R&B, pop, jazz, etc.

America’s present issues are serious. There is a long road ahead. No man can travel it alone. It will take all of us to lend support and get involved in our own governance. To survive, we most throw away the archaic values of yesteryear and understand this is a nation of differences that can make a difference if we overturn our unbridled greed and open our hearts to our neighbors and an ever shrinking world, recognizing together we can heal our world and ourselves not via competition but through cooperation that insures no one is left behind.


 

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