After Obama Victory, Dancing in the Streets

| 11/5/2008 8:03:01 AM

Dancin' in the Streets

Barack Obama delivered a serious, reflective, and forward-looking acceptance speech to an emotional and relieved audience in Grant Park last night. But when the crowd and many joiners took to Michigan Avenue to celebrate, no one was in the mood for political sobriety.

Revelers mounted the flowerpots dividing one of Chicago’s showcase streets and broke out into spontaneous musical celebrations, dancing with fellow supporters, sharing big smiles, and obsessively snapping photos. 

The scene inside Obama’s ticketed victory party was considerably more subdued, though no less emotional. There were periodic roars as Obama wins rolled in on the jumbotron, and a resounding cry of joy from the crowd when the words “Barack Obama Elected President” flashed triumphantly onto the screen beside Wolf Blitzer. It was, not surprisingly, the emotional climax of the rally and was punctuated with tearful hugs.

The communal spirit of the night was unmistakable, and the sense of mutual respect that flowed between the diverse slices of humanity that descended upon downtown Chicago to fete Obama was really special to be a part of. As we shuffled out of Hutchinson Field in a giant mass after Obama's acceptance speech, a middle-aged white man next to me watched an older black woman who was waving at the crowd and talking to the other partygoers from a small riser. He turned to his wife and said, "Imagine how she must feel after everything she's seen."

Black, white, young, old, it's safe to say the weight of the moment was lost on no one. And Chicago's euphoric spirit didn't fade overnight. As I sit here typing this blog the morning after, Obama cheers and chants are floating up to my third-story window on Chicago Avenue, a couple of miles west of downtown.

11/8/2008 12:32:23 PM

I was on the West Bank in Minneapolis when people decided to dance on Cedar Ave after Obama's victory. After about an hour the police came, but they just stood by after directing us closer to the sidewalks with big smiles on their faces. A complete turn-around with the police I had with them on our last meeting - at the RNC, when intimidation tactics prevailed. It was a completely different reaction to spontaneous exultation by the people of Minneapolis/St. Paul and I was glad to have been part of both scenes.

Rachel Levitt
11/6/2008 10:13:25 AM

I saw similar jubilation in Minneapolis once Obama's victory was announced. It's a rare opportunity to recognize that one is a part of an historical event, and even more rare to recognize it as it's happening. The positive energy was amazing. The only thing that marred the evening for me was Prop 8's passing in California. All I can hope is that, when I have kids, these battles will be like the black civil rights struggles of my parent's generation: I hope that they can say "I can't even believe that it was legal to discriminate like that!"

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