November 5th, 2008
01:23 AM ET

When a kid says 'I want to be president'

Roland S. Martin
AC360° Contributor
CNN Political Analyst

Obama will be sworn in January 20th, 2009. It will mark the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Obama got his start in politics in Springfield, Illinois. It was a race riot in Springfield, Illinois that led to the creation of NAACP.

For African Americans, when their children say, 'I want to be a doctor,' 'I want to be a lawyer,' 'I want to be a politician,' 'I want to be an astronaut,' they can always point to an African American who achieved it. Whenever a kid says,' I want to be president,' I literally saw black parents say, son, or daughter, you might think of being something else. I have nine nieces and four nephews. When I talk to them I can actually say, 'Yes, you can,' and mean it.

Filed under: 2008 Election • Barack Obama • Roland S. Martin
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Sophie MN

    I felt good going into this whole thing, a mix of strong polling, lawn signs all around me, and gut feeling.

    But when I heard Roland say pretty much these exact words in the broadcast last night, I found myself uncontrollably teared up.

    I've always wanted this moment for the US, a moment which seems like a logical, needed, chapter in our national narrative, if you believe that this country is about its unique and stated ideals. I think I'm still in shock that it's happened in my lifetime.

    November 5, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
  2. Carol from NC

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Roland for your comments last night pointing out that many Americans who are not African American are celebrating and crying over this momentous time in our history. You don't have to be African American to support civil rights and equal opportunity for all, and have stood up and fought and supported making this a reality.

    November 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  3. Michelle Ferguson

    Roland, first I would like to commend you CNN for your outstanding coverage of this historic election. I would also like to commend Senator McCain for bowing out gracefully, although it appeared that it was very painful for him to do that. It took a lot of courage for him to call Mr. Obama his president. I watched the results with my husband and daughters. My children realized how symbolic this election was and how important it is for us as a nation to rally around President elect Obama and to uplift him and his family in prayer. We as a nation must give him a chance just like we gave previous presidents an opportunity to make change. We know that it's going to take more than 4 years to correct the mistakes of the previous administration. America, I am proud of you for setting the example for the world to see that we can elect a man who is not only smart, but represents the ever changing society that a person doesn't have to be of one race to try to heal the masses. Good Luck Mr. Obama and may God smile upon you. For you deserve this. America and the world deserves this.

    November 5, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  4. mark

    Unlike most of you, I was in Washington, DC in 1968. Through my open window I heard the screams of angry people rioting in the streets and burning the City. Last night as I listened through my window I heard screams of joy and hope. After 40 years, we have come full circle.
    Thank you America- I am proud

    November 5, 2008 at 11:26 am |
  5. Michelle Manigault , Illinois

    So much of what we Americans see about black people on television is negative. Having a first family like the Obamas will do wonders to help break down sterotypes about black people. This is good for blacks and whites ,as the truth about each other will set us free. Also, I sincerely hope that hollywood and t.v. networks will catch on. We are a truly diverse nation! What is being portrayed on television is affecting the way blacks see themselves and in turn affects how they envision their futrue... think about it. The Obamas will help bring a balance to the media that is much needed ! . . . . Finally , I feel like I'm a part of America too! . . . I'm 35 years old. God bless cnn for keeping YOUR shows diverse, and GOD Bless our great nation !!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 11:21 am |
  6. carolyn

    Yesterday was a pretty day in Little Rock. My husband and I were working with our yard team to pick up leaves, trim trees, and soon it was time for lunch. The team helping us was two young black men. I decided it would be a fitting way to celebrate election day and Obama's chances of being president by inviting them to have lunch with us. So I set a pretty table on our patio and invited them to come. We held hands and had a blessing, asking God to bring us closer, help us build bridges across all racial lines in America, and to respect each other as children of God. Then we sat down to a steaming bowl of homemade soup and iced tea. We talked about the election, about our voting experiences, and our hopes. It felt right. We celebrated before the results were in, but we all knew something was changing! And it felt right and that we were part of history too.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:16 am |
  7. Sharon Kitchen

    To all those that have struggled ........today is a "new" beginning.
    To all those that have gone on before us,thank you for your struggles.
    To all those that wish to continue the struggle......join.

    Now......to "these United States of America" join and let us "all",every race,age,creed, work together for a more "perfect union".

    One day, I also pray that a Native American can become recognized as the "leader" of Turtle Island(USA).

    May the Creator bless us all.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:01 am |
  8. Cherisa

    What an amazingly powerful moment, to watch the emotion on Roland's face and hear it in his voice. To witness the dream of all those who have gone before realized on the world stage. I am so very proud to be part of this piece of history.

    November 5, 2008 at 10:50 am |
  9. Christine Shannon-Preval

    “Yes”, God has Blessed America!

    After 11:00 pm on November 4, 2008 with my eyes closed listening to CNN on TV with my 26-yr old son & 22-yr old daughter, my sons best friend who is also 26-yrs old, and even my niece who is 28-yrs old sat in the den screaming to the top of our lungs “Yes We Did” Obama with tears rolling down our faces in shock, witnessing a Historical Moment!

    As a 47-year old Black Woman remembering 40-years ago how my Mother would take us every with her to marched in Washington DC during the Civil Rights in the 1960’s, and camping out on the lawn of the State Capital in Hartford CT for Minority & Women Rights, and how I wish my Mom could be here to share this day, but she's now a Guiding Angel!

    In silence, with my eyes closed, I listen to My Heart pounding hard into my ears and my Spirit Cried from those who have come before us chanting deep in my Soul “Joy, Joy, Joy” and I felt something so special that words can not explain or describe the experience, but I now know what the Blood, Sweat & Tears represented on this Historical Day, and I couldn't be more prouder of my Son & Daughter’s Generation & All Americans of All Colors who have Spoken Loud & Clear!

    Our Ancestor’s have paved the way for BARACK OBAMA to guide this Nation with wisdom and common sense with Spiritual Guidance around the world that will heal & unite American & The World beyond our imagination with our 1st Elected Black Man who looks like all of Us! The Color Theory has “Cracked in a Trillion Pieces” and the people have spoken.

    Yes We Can, and Yes We Did in 2008!

    Christine Shannon-Preval, Hartford CT 11/5/08

    November 5, 2008 at 10:33 am |
  10. Dayvyet


    Thank you OBAMA and BIDEN for restoring hope in my heart. CONGRATS!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 10:13 am |
  11. YON from Boston

    Roland, there were many things you said last night that were very powerful, but, to me, the most powerful thing you said was that this was not just a victory for black Americans, but a victory for all Americans who truly believe in what America stands for, that all people are created equal! And a victory for all those, black and white, who sacrificed so much to fight for that America. Thanx!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 10:07 am |
  12. Amanda

    Obama's mom was in fact white and that makes President Obama the first bi-racial president. He wasn't some thug from the ghetto. He is well educated and is rich. This is why he won the election. I'm confused why everyone keeps calling him African-American. Just because he is dark for a bi-racial individual, he is just as much white. 50% to be exact.

    November 5, 2008 at 10:02 am |
  13. Amanda

    What about girls who say I want to be president? They have no one to 'point' to. And females make up half the country! I am glad we can move beyond a 'white dude' always being pres, but we need a good WOMAN.

    November 5, 2008 at 9:57 am |
  14. Joy, Fort Gordon, Georgia

    I am deeply heartened and elated to see my hope for a nation built on equality come to trusion and this is a historic moment and as a historian it is personally amazing, but lets not make it a moment lets make sure that there is a lasting effect upon this nation and the world, we must continue to expect the better halfs of ourselves, our representatives, and our neighbors and work together despite political or ideological differences because not just this nation but this world deserves better that what we have given the past eight years. I implore everyone to continue staying abreast of what occurs politically, nationally, and internationally, we MUST be mindful and keep this nation on track.

    November 5, 2008 at 9:49 am |
  15. Cory, Iowa

    After last night the bar has been raised for other countries to strive for. We can only hope that as a nation we can reach the goals laid out before us with our new leader showing us how to reach them. We must remember that looking back does not move us forward and the future is now. We can now set aside our differences and rebuild the nation to be back on top.

    November 5, 2008 at 9:11 am |
  16. Sello

    I was born in Souht Africa and i still live here.I'm proud of the Americans for what they have achieved because they have chosen a leader who shows that hard work pays and although times might be hard if work hard there's hope.

    God bless Africa and God Bless America

    November 5, 2008 at 8:32 am |
  17. winar

    may he brings peace to the world

    November 5, 2008 at 8:10 am |
  18. Rahni, Connecticut

    I’m happiest girl, in the whole U.S.A !!!

    November 5, 2008 at 7:59 am |
  19. Karen in Barranquilla, Colombia

    I cannot begin to explain the complex mixture of feelings that last night, a Historic Night, invaded me.

    Watching and listening to Roland and the rest of the world giving a desperate and hopeful cry for change, Barack Obama's change, was incredibly inspiring. Last night I was able to dream and believe again.
    For me, a 23 year old med student, the mere thought of living to see the day when history was made, was a far stretch, but today as I'm writing with my sinking thoughts, I know this is just the first page of a new chapter called "If You Can Believe It, You Can Achieve It. If You Can Dream It, You Can Become It".

    Now I can say again... what a wonderful world.

    I'm proud for African Americans, I'm proud for catholics, I'm proud for the veterans, I'm proud for women and I'm most proud of every single human being who were able to surpass/resolve their issues and embrace a new way of thinking, feeling, dreaming, believing.

    Looking forward to comments on tonight's show, excellent show by the way... try not to miss it very often!

    November 5, 2008 at 7:56 am |
  20. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    This is a defining moment for Change for the World. I am really speechless.............but smiling 🙂

    November 5, 2008 at 7:55 am |
  21. Paul B

    AMEN Vickie MO. God does work in mysterious ways and I truely believe that the souls that have passed before us protected this man and gave people a path towards the "right thing to do." We must all realize, it comes to no surprise that Obama had a flawless campaign. People were not giving credit to where credit was due. Obama's educational background allows him to utilize critical and systems thinking while surrounding himself with people who share the same values and goals. I love the fact that he represents all of us. Quite frankly I am tired of everyone saying, "African American this, African American that" How about, an American man has won and has promissed to help us get back on track. Obama, not once brought up his hertiage to better his campaign. He always stated the facts people cared about and never strayed! This man is smart, and has the ability to strategize unlike the our past 8 years. The proof is in the pudding on this go round. Americans came through and I believe we can begin healing and breathe a little easier knowing that Obama has the knowledge, skills and educational background to build and run a successful America!!!!

    My two cents

    November 5, 2008 at 7:54 am |
  22. Darryl Hester

    Today is a good day it's a day that America has come together and healed a racial divide. Although there are many who remains in the distance past, but today MLK dreams has come true, A day when a man is not judged by the color of his skin, but for his love for all people. Let today begin the trend to end racism in society and corporate America. Today the People's voice says " Yes We Can".

    Darryl Hester Sr.

    November 5, 2008 at 7:54 am |
  23. Abeebat Yasinmeen

    I am so happy and proud to know that Obama won.this is a new begining for Americans and African-American in general.i'm proud to be a black man.

    November 5, 2008 at 7:50 am |
  24. Boris

    It's been 15 years since I left the US. This morning at 7am I cried. The meaning of this victory is supermassive. It can not be explained. The World today is more united and hopeful then it has every been. Thank you President Obama and Godspeed!

    November 5, 2008 at 7:29 am |
  25. gopalshenoy

    Today is a historic day in America. I have so much confidence in President elect Obama's capabilities and now the world will watch as he executes to get this country back on track

    November 5, 2008 at 7:15 am |
  26. Betty

    Congratulations United States of America – I must admit I didn't think you had it in you. I am SO glad to be wrong! All is forgiven – the fact that you invaded my country 3 times [without success thank god]....all the other countries you have invaded without valid reasons.....all the people who have died in those countries........all your collective and individual arrogance and superior attitudes ....... your ignorance of other countries and cultures ......... your stupidity [especially for electing George Bush TWICE]. The slate is clean. You are a people with wonderful potential – I know, I have lived in your country – I hope you can begin to live to that potential – you proved today that you, at least, have good intentions. I hope you never let those mean minded non-sharing Its-mine-and-I'm-keeping-it republicans in your door again. We need to be our brother's keeper as much as possible. Thanks for giving us all a new lease on life. Your Canadian Neighbour

    November 5, 2008 at 7:13 am |
  27. Nancy Lee

    I'm a proud Canadian, born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. My paternal grandmother's people found freedom on the underground railroad and made a life here in Canada. My paternal grandfather was born and raised in Maysville, Kentucky. A proud man of colour who came to Canada for a better life, a freer life.
    Last night I watched Obama win the Presidency of the U.S. and listened to him talk to the American people, as I have many times throughout your election.
    Tears filled my eyes, as I thought about my ancestors, who lived and died fighting for their freedom, White, Black and Native American. This was a very proud moment for your country. To put aside the racial divide and stand up and say, in Obama's word's "Yes we can."
    My father always told us those same words, as I have always related that same sentiment to my six children.
    I must admit that I never truly believed that America believed in that sentiment, even though throughout history, your country has fought against injustices all over the world, yet held on to a greater injustice within your own borders.
    Last night, I believe that Americans finally freed themselves of the shackles that have tied their hands back for two centuries from providing true freedom and democracy for all of it's people. It can now stand on the world's centre stage and look the rest of us in the eye and say with convection, we are a just and true nation for ALL of our people, for you have finally practiced what you preached.
    It was an amazing moment, for all of us watching.
    Thank you
    Nancy Lee
    Barrie, Ontario

    November 5, 2008 at 7:12 am |
  28. Woody

    Obama certainly has his work cut out, especially after the promises of change.

    November 5, 2008 at 7:09 am |
  29. Mark Gay

    Last night ,RACISM HAD A MASSIVE HEART ATTACK , it didn't die, but it will never be the same ! Thank God!!

    November 5, 2008 at 6:57 am |
  30. A. M. Izquierdo

    IMPEACH OBAMA NOW! I think that it is a sad day in American that we have in last 16 years have elected a draft dodger (Clinton) and a terrorist supporter (Obama). However before real impeachment proceedings begin, I want to know what will he do to gain my support. After all, he promised that he would listen to those and attempt win the support of those who did not support him.

    November 5, 2008 at 6:47 am |
  31. Daryl

    To Sarah and her cynical response that everyone is created equal, I say when a Baseball them wins a championship everyone clebrates. But when 400 years of being told we were created equal, (African American) yet treated differently finally comes to an end you cannot begin to understand the excitement. I am proud of those who look like you but refused to think like you. And voted according to their conscience and not their prejudices

    November 5, 2008 at 6:46 am |
  32. Yomi

    I woke up this morning, rushing again to see that truly the news I heard last night about President Obama is true and that nothing changes. Even though I want this to happen ,I am too happy and in a state of fear that I keep wandering if this is real or am I halluccinating?
    Now that the election is over, I strongly hope that all hands will be on deck to make sure this government works for everybody as it renew our HOPE. {Highest Opportunity Promise Ever}

    November 5, 2008 at 6:46 am |
  33. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    AMERICA LIVES !!!!!!!!!!!!

    The divsivness and outright hatred that was fomented under the Bush administration and the Republicans in general is now on the mend. A New Day is upon us and the world.

    NO MORE VIOLATIONS of the Geneva Convention, No more absurd Right Wingnut Religious dogma and Neo-Con fiscal irresponsible Greed in the White House. No more senseless wars , NO MORE YOU'RE On YOUR OWN WHILE THE RICH GET RICHER.

    God Bless You Mr. President Elect Obama and GOD SPEED IN MENDING THIS BROKEN BUT STILL GREAT NATION OF OURS !!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 6:45 am |
  34. Rob

    Sarah, in a word the problem here is racism.

    November 5, 2008 at 6:09 am |
  35. Sam & Elly Houston`

    The people have spoken. It speaks volumes that when the republicans, and most xspecifically Palin ridiculed Obama as just "a community organizer" (wink), that it was this very "community organization" that has changed history in the world. It's a great day for all who support President-elect Obama. But an even greater day to be a proud American!

    November 5, 2008 at 5:55 am |
  36. LULU

    I'm very elated that all these is over. I'm also very happy that Obama had won the race for presidency. His victory is very symbolic of the true America for which it stands. But it saddens me that the media only refers to him as a "BLACK" American when in reality, Obama is bi-racial. I feel that the media calling Obama a "black" man is to say that his mother never existed. He is a great man to look up to and it will do him better justice to recognize him for what he is. He would not be Obama without his Mother giving birth to him.

    November 5, 2008 at 5:31 am |
  37. Arlyn

    I am a 28 year old white woman from Hampton Roads, VA. I have always been well off, attended private schools, grew up in a gated community, had a family in the highest income bracket. Needless to say, Republicans. From age 18, however I have been an adament Democrat. I began crying when I realized the sheer magnitude of what was happening. I have been working at the Obama HQ in Williamsburg. The volunteers (every age, race, different states, even countries have worked to delirium.
    When Roland became emotional, I saw Jesse Jackson, Donna Brazile had just spoken; everyone... I broke down into tears. This is not an election, it is a whole new era. I may be younger than many, but my reach and influence is far. This election was not about me.It was more for you all, your ancestors; it is for women that have given so much for me. This election was fought for unmentionable numbers of unsung individuals throught our history. Thank you to them. These are my heroes.

    November 5, 2008 at 5:24 am |
  38. Islay Heyd

    Roland, your reaction brought tears to my eyes and made my heart swell with emotion. I have been totally focused on this election for months now, and could actually feel the world become a bit better last night. I am Canadian, and live on the Michigan/Canada border, and I want to congratulate the citizens of the US on this historic win. We are all a bit better off today. God Bless.

    November 5, 2008 at 5:22 am |
  39. A Canadian

    5 Nov., 2008

    Senator John McCain,

    John, people are basically “stupid” …

    They believe the “drivel” spouted by the likes of the Clintons and this new guy in the driver seat …

    You have served your Country honorably …

    It is now time to retire with honor …

    With dignity …

    You have done your job …

    You have done more than your fair share …

    Enjoy your remaining years in graceful retirement …

    I would not return to the Senate …

    You will only be beating your head against “a brick wall” …

    Why waste your remaining years suffering like that …

    Let the “fools” enjoy their momentary regalia …

    This new guy is just like the Clintons, there to fill his pockets like they did …

    Nothing more, nothing less …

    And the “idiot masses” may come to realize that eventually …

    However, why concern yourself with the likes of them …

    Retire my good man, and God go with you …

    A Canadian

    November 5, 2008 at 4:58 am |
  40. ramli

    the new president had been chosen, a new hope is on the way...that's at least what every people wish for, however listening to Obama first speech on his winning tonight, i just wonder when he said that maybe one term won't finish the hard task. how long did he expect to be in the white house? his entire whole life or what?!!...we've been fooled...

    November 5, 2008 at 4:58 am |
  41. Rabiya K

    I believe that it is important to note that although it is a great day for African Americans; it is vital to frame President Obama's victory through the multiple 'hope's he represents. His bi-racial identity is vital, his faith is vital, his roots in Hawaii, his Asian American sister is vital, his travel around the world in his youth is vital, his having an immigrant parent is vital, his understanding that all muslims are not the enemy is vital, his being young is vital, his being new is vital,his growing up in a white world is vital, his being black is vital.... it took all those steps in all those different lights that make him just like all of us – so we can relate to him, believe in him and by extension believe in ourselves, understand his shortcomings and forgive those as we do for ourselves.

    November 5, 2008 at 4:51 am |
  42. Davida

    It is truly remarkable for both the US and the World.

    I am so happy that America chose wisely; your place in the eyes of the world has diminished and was in further jeopardy. I believe, had the result been different, the rest of the world would have collectively breathed a huge sigh and turned its back.

    Great pocket square, Roland (The Daily Beast)

    November 5, 2008 at 4:30 am |
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