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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sitting on the floor against the wall in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom, I had separated myself from the masses and slowly began to grasp what President-elect Barack Obama's victory meant to the black students at UF.

Applause and celebration were commonplace over the course of the evening, but something exceptional happened when the news broke that the freshman senator from Illinois had defied all logic to defeat a man who looked a lot like every other president in America's past.

Hearing the incessant chanting of their candidate's name, watching perfect strangers embrace and seeing others overcome with sheer emotion break down in tears of joy, I couldn't help but get swept up in the moment.

Somewhere, black luminaries like Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass were grinning from ear to ear.

The scene of peaceful chaos could not be disrupted by the police officers standing nearby or the few remaining McCain supporters. The sentiment expressed throughout the room was a force no one dared to reckon with.

I wrote initially in a blog entry that the feeling was akin to attending a rowdy football game at the Swamp, but the emotion in the room was so much more honest, so much more significant.

Obama's victory is the embodiment of democracy; the public's cry for something new has finally been answered.

I thought about what the victory meant to me, and perhaps if I hadn't been attending as a journalist, I would have been a bit more inclined to join in the celebration. Seeing how black students reacted to the announcement was one of the most moving experiences I have ever witnessed.

For some, such a defining moment may not occur again until they get married or have their first child, and for others the sense of elation shared with hundreds of their peers may remain an unparalleled memory over the course of their lifetimes.

After generations of blood, sweat and tears, Tuesday night finally arrived with Obama representing the bright future that so many of his predecessors sacrificed their lives for.

We have reached a point in our history where a child will no longer be born into America and face limitations on the prospects of its life.

When times are tough (economic and social recovery will not happen overnight), the black community will be able to turn to President-elect Obama and have faith that the man they so passionately fought for will have their best interests at heart. For the first time in American history, one can believe the voiceless will be heard and the downtrodden will no longer be forgotten.

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We have undeniably progressed as a nation and will build from such historic times to solidify our standing as the epitome of what all countries should strive for.

I walked away from the Reitz Union inspired by Tuesday evening's events, which I experienced alongside some of the most passionate people who lived and died with every breaking development in the action.

This was no World Series victory, job promotion or any other seemingly trite call for celebration, but rather, the most definitive moment in the history of America as voters demanded change.

Our great country has spoken and elected a black man into the highest office in the land - nothing short of truly amazing.

There has never been a prouder time to call yourself an American.

Daniel Seco is a journalism graduate student. His column appears on Thursdays.

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