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Election night 2008: the beginning

Washington Journal: the Inauguration

Posted: January 8, 2009 6:36 p.m.
Updated: January 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

B.C. goes to D.C.: Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles' Washington Journal starts today in The Signal and on Join him on his journey to our nation's capital for the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Editor's note: First in a series as The Signal's Brian Charles travels to Washington, D.C., to cover the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

It was 9 p.m. on Nov. 4, and Barack Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 Presidential Election. I leaned over to my wife and told her this was the best day of my life.

Considering we're newlyweds and we don't have kids, this should have landed me on the couch. But it didn't.

If that doesn't prove that Obama can change the country, I don't know what will.

Hope ruled the day Nov. 4. And that goes beyond a campaign slogan. The hopes of all those who didn't get the follow-up interview, or were told they weren't a good fit for the company, were vindicated - if only for a moment.

Hope told little black boys they could be more than the mainstream media projection of athletes, rappers and entertainers.

Hope told women that the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling did enough damage to shatter that ceiling.

Hope confirmed that white Americans could see beyond race and elect a qualified candidate.

Hope told all Americans we could become a pluralistic, more perfect union.

Before there was hope, I spent most of Nov. 4 pacing The Signal office. Signal employees won't find this a surprise, as I am pacer. I think better on my feet.

But this day was different. I was truly nervous.

I am the son of a woman who grew up in the Jim Crow South. She volunteered to make phone calls on behalf of the Obama campaign.

I am the son of a man who immigrated to the United States, who registered people to vote and called them on Election Day just to make sure.

I knew the significance of the day, and that significance boiled in my stomach.

The story of Obama's campaign and his unlikely success is well-documented.

But what does this mean to people?

What does Obama mean to my mother, who recalls childhood memories of separate and unequal? What does he mean to me, a kid with mixed heritage who found a role model in someone who also struggled to discover his identity?

What does Obama mean to people of all shades who struggled to make the words E Pluribus Unum ring true?

The next two weeks, The Signal will dedicate this Web page to that pursuit. My Washington Journal will serve as a forum for ideas and a diary of my travel to the inauguration.

The page will be a place to share stories of hope and change, and to share the significance of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.


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