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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

As an American, the proudest moment of my life came on Tuesday night.

No, it wasn't the second I found out Sen. Barack Obama had been elected president.

It wasn't even during his acceptance speech, when his eloquence and humility left me absolutely speechless. It was afterward, without CNN, the potato chips or the booze.

After election night concluded, my friends and I headed back to my apartment. As we got out of my car, we heard a growing roar from a few blocks away.

At the corner of University Avenue and 17th Street stood Obama supporters waving and shouting in elation as cars drove by.

The honking, yelling and energetic frenzy warmed the cool November night. It was a feeling that I had never experienced, and it wasn't because the candidate I had voted for won.

I joined them, running back and forth across the street, jumping deliriously and screaming louder than I ever had at a football game.

When I stopped to catch my breath, I looked around. I saw black, white, Asian, Latino, blue eyes and brown eyes. We were all there, together, hugging each other, shouting together and running side by side in the crosswalks. It was more than just happiness.

We all knew that if Obama won, Tuesday night would be special. We will tell his story to our children and grandchildren. We will immortalize his moment in our memories and history books. At least on an abstract, intellectual level, his triumph would mark this election in a way that no other has.

Maybe my pessimism about America's narrow-mindedness had blinded me from the compassion we are all capable of showing. Maybe I had been too worried about him losing or too saturated in his message of hope and change that I had forgotten what he was fighting for.

Above all, I didn't think that a small group of people waving Obama signs and running in the crosswalks could make me feel so hopeful.

The celebration on the street epitomized what Obama's win signified. We can overcome our differences. We can look past the racism that plagues our history. We can unite. Yes we can. And on Tuesday night, we did.

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To all of you who were there, thank you. I have never been prouder.

Andrea Williamson is a journalism and linguistics senior.

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