The night started off slow, with Minneapolis Mayor RT Ryback drinking water in the ground floor lounge of the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul. The Democratic Farmer Labor Party was on edge, feeling confident, yet nervous. Most at the bar ordered whiskey drinks.
The ballroom begins to cram itself tight. Black men in Obama Kangol hats stand and high-five white women in professor glasses, black braids sway next to bottle blond locks. The crowd is mixed with age and race and sexuality. Screams go off when Obama continues to stretch his lead in Ohio and Florida. When the countdown begins to the poll closings in California, Oregon and Washington people begin to dance. Then when FOXNEWS blasts across the screen, “OBAMA Elected President” the entire place goes ape:
Screams and yells and disbelief—it’s Fox who reported it—are sent up to the ceiling. Then, for some reason, everyone begins to cry. A DFL woman grabs me, kisses me on the cheek and sobs into my shoulder before grabbing the next person alongside me to do the same. Two college-aged friends embrace and both sob as though someone just died. Up on the television screen they show Jesse Jackson doing the same. It’s as though the majority of the nation just proved to world, and themselves, that America still has the ability to do something smart. And that a country we were taught at an early age to believe is noble and good, but hasn’t acted that way for the past decade, just did something historic and brave, just punctured its history of racism, just did something that feels good, just did something American.