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. lampe

    Roland: I had wished you had said, " Now all little children, either AA or little girls can grow up to be POTUS, orV.P." After all you do have a little girl in your life don't you uncle Ro Ro. wouldn't it be nice for her to understand as either a AA child, or as a girl she can do anything. But, wait then again, you might have to explain to her Why, it is that you said some pretty nasty things about HRC, and Gov. Palin Right? Although I don't agree that this was just a good moment for AA, I think it was a good moment for americans, and by not saying that also, you are taking away something I would think to be very important to President Elect Obama, because after all he is not President Obama, until Jan. 20th 2009.

    November 5, 2008 at 4:24 am |
  2. Dave

    Why the constant racial mantra - first African-American? Let's be accurate in our reporting... Sen. Obama will be the first half white, half black or bi-racial president. That may not be as glamorous a title, but most correct.

    November 5, 2008 at 4:15 am |
  3. Ray Kinserlow

    It's really quite simple, no-drama-obama pitched a perfect game.

    Ray Kinserlow
    Lubbock, Texas

    November 5, 2008 at 4:15 am |
  4. mary a

    oh and when you live in a community filled with violence. when you can't go to sleep because the rats are feasting and someone is running on your roof because there is a police chase. the day i never see s.w.a.t. again will not come soon enough. discrimination and poverty is very much alive. i'm not sure if it would be much better or worse if i was to be a native.

    November 5, 2008 at 4:12 am |
  5. mary a

    to that sarah person. you don't have to get it. it's not because you're not educated. you know understanding something at the same time as others is not really what it's made up to be. you'll find your own meaning in all this and i'm sure from your post that it will differ from those of others. i'm glad that obama's speech tonight was for people like you...and also for me as well.

    i had never known racism as much as i did until i came to canada...the land of the free when i was a toddler. up until then my limited understanding of politics and elections back home, understanding about ethnic tensions between south-north-east-west ghana, our embrace of immigration from other african countries (some due to refugee status and wars in neighbouring countries) which was the start of our dissolving borders, and my one encounter with a muslim man (folk tales of muslim men stealing young children) and participating in atrocious actions of discrimination as a tender kid...i would say that i never knew much about seeing differences between myself and an other. then i came to canada and i was told i was too dark and spoke bad afrikaan by a jamaican, to which i responded in english and told him that the official language in my country was english because we were colonized by the brits, that i even knew french and many other languages, and that i looked just like him. i'm sure i made that older grade 8 look a fool...but that wasn't my intention. the next one came when i was in 5/6th grade and i was taking the bus at a very big subway station and an old jewish lady called me a slur (to which i told her that my ancestors had never been enslaved. we're royalty back home...and our family history is well known...but of course ignorance is bliss of rsome people), told me that i should get off the bus because i can't be in the same space as her, i can't look at her because she would go blind, and that i can't breathe her air. i can still hear the silence and see the shock from the passangers on that bus. i didn't get it then, but i certainly learned to get it. you get to understand it sarah when you're one of the 10 black kids out of 800 at your wealthy arts school because your parents have a dream of a future for you although you live in metro housing...you're poor...you can't afford food...you can't afford clothes...you freeze in the winter...you've never been to the dentist...and you'll never be like some of the kids you go to school with. when you're the best student in the class but you get overlooked...and you don't have the money to go to college/university so you have to work for years and years and dream of a future of when you can. yeah it's all life. like i said before you don't have to get it. people are understanding the reality. it happened in the past, and it's happening now. i've always been a community volunteer and a politician at heart. i know i can do this now. i know i can go to the best schools in the world even if i may not have the money. I CAN DO THIS. YES WE DID.

    November 5, 2008 at 4:08 am |
  6. Dave

    I always wondered why he is called an African American, when his mother is white. He is as much white as black. Could it be just to get votes? Nah

    November 5, 2008 at 4:04 am |
  7. natassa

    i cannot not belive that obama won...not because he is taking us toward the future but because the US of A has come to this place,this stage where all of us are independents...did anybody try and find out how many of votes came from indepents..and how many of uall indenpendents registered or changed vtoer registeration before this election...i really do wish that it di dnot come to where we needed to choose the better of 2 evils..and all know in their hearts...WE DID !!!!!!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 3:57 am |
  8. Glen

    The Mandate for the new president must be as follows for the American people have spoken:
    1. Don't lie to me I am not stupid, I do not respond to fear mongering. If we have a problem expain it to me and tell me how you want to fix it.
    2. Race or Gender have no bearing on any part of our lives except the people that were born before 1960. The best man or weoman for the job.
    3. Restore our faith in this method of government and the dignity of this government style within the world.
    We have a lot of problems to solve. 1 Greed, 2. Integrety are the top two.
    I refuse to be one who lives in fear, in our cities,counties,states, or country. Let Freedom Ring.
    Solve the Irac debogle honorably so that another viet nam scare does not haunt us as it has our generation.
    Get Greed out of our housing markets, banking industry,and have fair play and honesty restored to all
    That my thoughts for today
    I doupt that the media will even say anything about them because they are controlled by outside sources.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:52 am |
  9. Malar fr Singapore

    I salute you, America!

    November 5, 2008 at 3:46 am |
  10. Ruth

    I cannot believe that there is still some kind of labelling of a person based on colour and not merit? It's an atitude that I am hoping will change. He was the best candidate for what he believes he can achieve and helped others to see that it is possible.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:46 am |
  11. Chris

    Sorry Sarah but we are not all the same. Not even close.

    This, however, brings us one giant step closer to that goal.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:42 am |
  12. JoeDoaks

    I am glad that Obama won. One more pin in the alley of what is wrong with
    America has been knocked down. For the greatest country in the world we still have some warts that need removing.

    McCain’s concession speech was nothing short of magnificent. Had he been more like that instead of a drunken sailor swaggering down the street I believe he would have faired better. Palin (nice ass and all) was not only no help, she came across like a wind-up doll with the depth of a teaspoon-and a bit of a closet-nazi!

    W. handed this election to Obama and Obama’s message.
    W. will undoubtedly not be put on any coins in my life-time).

    Obama has a message, let us hope that we can carry it forward.

    I am white and from Alabama, I know a lot of people there are jubilant, I also know a lot that are not. Hopefully the Bush-divisiveness will not creep up again.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:37 am |
  13. Ashley

    They didn't want to give us 40 acres and a mule so dammit we will take 50 states and the white house !!!!!!!!! OBAMA 08

    November 5, 2008 at 3:23 am |
  14. Thanh

    It's the exact point I and other people made. When a black/latino/asian/etc kid, male or female says that they want to be president, parents and teachers don't have to sugar coat reality for them. It hurts to tell a young child that their dream will never come true. What happened tonight, is they made the once impossible, to the possible.

    It's valuable to teach the children that with hard work and determination, you can achieve your dreams. Sometimes I get the feeling like minorities like myself and others are stuck in society. We can wield significant economic power, and to much lesser extent political power. Obama's election, I hope, will uplift all people, and inspire them to dream big.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:22 am |
  15. Ken in NC

    @ Sarah

    We are all equal, NOW. Not to sound insensitive Sarah but you must grow up being Black and being told what you cannot do in life to appreciate what tonight represents to minorities in this counrty.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:15 am |
  16. ellis tolofari

    as an african i see 'the audacity of hpe', hope that brings salvation as the bible puts it the helmet of salvation. that helment keeps us calm and sane in times of distress. gives us a sense of purpose. In africa we live with the hope that salvation is near for us. obama is the audacity of hope.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:12 am |
  17. Kajri

    I'm beyond elated!! I was in Grant park and this moment was one of the most amazing time in my life....specially because it happened on MY BIRTHDAY! Thank you America for the most amazing birthday gift!

    November 5, 2008 at 3:11 am |
  18. James Curran

    Congratulations to Mr. Obama. A question: If Ernie Els, the professional golfer, became an American citizen, would he be an "African American"? Its the stupidest moniker I have ever heard. I guess the rest of you are non-African Americans. All Blacks are not from Africa and all Whites and others are not from America. Stop this PC nonsense and get over yourselves.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:07 am |
  19. Karen Ricci

    Don't forget...
    in everyone's brutal analysis,that Barack has to attend to his family right now.
    It, at this moment, is not about any of the great spins, it is about family...
    77 days, I think...
    I am hopeful too....
    Please, have respect for one of the persons that put him here
    As excited as I am....

    I will do it!

    November 5, 2008 at 3:00 am |
  20. Jared Orion Stuart

    America, we got it right. The consciousness that will stream through Obama has the capacity to bring this country back to an embryonic seed level; before the deaths of such individuals as John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, or John Lennon. To bring us back to a consciousness before we fought two wars in Vietnam and Iraq for profit in the name of ideology, and shed American blood which has no price. To bring hearts filled and entrenched with sorrow back to newness and peace. I think this moment is a gift from the Creator, and consequently I have to believe and hope and trust again. America, we are leaving a 40 year ground hog day and getting back on track. And it is good. Thank you. I am grateful.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:59 am |
  21. Tomasz

    Why is everybody claiming that Sen. Obama has won already? Has there been an official vote count? The stats you have are based on Exit polling, true? Don't make a hoopla until there is an official result.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:57 am |
  22. Karen Ricci

    I am hopeful. I will be an RN in a year. Please do not forget the loss that Obama and his loved ones face. I am watching your analysis but... real people.. to coin the awful phrase "main street" understand the closure he has to make soon.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:52 am |
  23. Simon

    The President of Kenya has declared today a national holiday for Kenya because of Barrack Obamas victory

    November 5, 2008 at 2:46 am |
  24. David

    Why didn't Obama pick Hilary. When Obama did not pick her I said I would never vote for him. But after hearing all his speaches. I could not shake the fact that their was something special about Obama. He will be the best President this country ever had. My brother says he looks like Abraham Lincoln.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:45 am |
  25. Ivor

    Its good to see a new face in Washington. Sad to see that the world is cheering as we go liberal. Im totally less moved that the United States has chosen a man of color as we are decades from discrimination based on color and this election result has proved it. What has got me shaken is by wondering if the world will now see us insignificant because of our liberal trend? For starts, the world market has jumped b4 wall street could react. It just the thought of having democrats running washington that scares me and i blame most of the greedy republicans.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:42 am |
  26. Naissa, Texas, USA

    I am an eighteen year old female who voted for the first time today. I CANNOT fathom the fact that I have now helped make history. This is unbelieveable.

    President Obama. OMG!


    November 5, 2008 at 2:37 am |
  27. becky

    i'm canadian and i am so inspired right now – americans have to remember that the world is watching, that the world was doubting, and now the world is awestruck and celebrating alongside you.

    it's so amazing to wake up tomorrow and be able to say: a black man is the leader of the most powerful nation in the free world.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:35 am |
  28. Tim Green

    I hope all the best for our new president, But how do we figure he is the first black president when his parents on one side is white. He is our first biracial president lets get it right, I don't see how the media and the african american community can attach themselves souly to barrack and his african roots, what is his grandmother in hawaii and mother chop liver give me a break people.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:33 am |
  29. Mark McCullough

    Alex, you are the bomb! I've tried to e-mail you directly but was unsuccessful. I'm a native North Carolinian, a white male, have a BA in Political Science, am GAY, and voted for McCain/Palin. Tonight, I cried when Obama won because I've grown up with Black folks, worked side by side with them, and lived with them all of my life, and of course I cried when McCain gave his concession speech, and I cried when it looked pretty clear that most of my country thinks that I should not be able to choose the person I will marry, which makes me feel sick to my stomach. And I thought to myself, "Am I the new disenfranchised group for 2012?" It's great to think I will have this new affordable healthcare (although no one has told us what "affordable" means yet or what coverage will be like, and who will pay for it, or subsidize it) and it's great to think I will get a tax credit for just about everything I can think of, but who is going to work on my two main issues, which should also be the nation's two main issues: the national debt/balancing the budget and energy independence!!!

    Please tell me that in 4 years I won't be pleding allegiance to my new nation (China) and wishing I had gone out in 2008 and done more than vote – – wishing I had shaken people by the shoulders and tried to wake them out of their trance. Those who say that they are looking to their government for solutions to their daily problems scare me to death – – tax credits for daycare, and hybrids, and college tuition, and free healthcare, etc. is just not a creative solution to the larger problem that this country faces which is that we are bankrupt for God's sake and there is no money left to spend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Should I be buying property in Costa Rica?

    Tell Roland I don't have anything but love for him, honest to God, but I do believe he's blinded by color when it comes to Obama.



    November 5, 2008 at 2:12 am |
  30. Audra from Millarville (CAN)

    Dear America,

    With a tear in my eye, I congratulate you, celebrate with you, and look forward to the future with you.


    November 5, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  31. bob the baker

    Track One : "Political" Track O'BAMA takes the fight. http://www.myspace.com/theroyalfamily1976

    November 5, 2008 at 2:08 am |
  32. eileen

    I finally feel like the hand cuffs have come off. Bush was the most self-centered, out of touch thing that has ever invaded this country. I am so grateful that I feel like we have a president -elect who really cares about us.

    I found it ironic that Bush made it his mission to take out a leader (Hussein) for terrorizing his country because his daddy could not get it done during his administration. What Bush accomplished with his selfishness was to draw every one away from him. He terrorized his own country time and time again (hello, Katrina! i will never forget !).
    i feel free again and I have counted down the years and months and days until I could feel like I was free of this idiotic administration.

    It is time to CLEAN HOUSE in Washington.


    November 5, 2008 at 2:06 am |
  33. George S

    To say that that this is the greatest day in American history in my lifetime is the largest understatement in the world.
    I was fortunate enough to be in Grant Park to hear the next president speak to a crowd made up of so many different people representing all races, ages, creeds all standing around me trying to just get a glimpse of the man that has changed the world by his commanding precense.
    Words like Peace, Hope, Change, rang true in the way the overwhelming crowd behaved and moved in harmony together.
    Obama's speach hit all the tenants that have made him our 44th President bringing back the call to action of great leaders of the past. The idea of bringing people together not only by words but by actions by improving our nation by our own individual efforts, by believing in ourselves as Americans, and by summoning what is best in us all, I now see the middle road that so many have spoken of in the past can be a reality.
    I thank all of you in covering this historic moment with grace, humility, and real emotion.
    Thanks to America for giving hope to those that never had it.
    We will all wake up in a better America tomorrow.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:05 am |
  34. Thomas

    Thank you CNN !
    And all your staff.
    God be with us all.

    See you in four years.
    All the best.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:04 am |
  35. Kia from Los Angeles

    I feel like I can, and am able to do anything that I dream about doing. I’m 23 years old, and never thought I would see this day. Tonight gives me the hope for my future, and my children’s future.. Thank God for Obama, and everyone who helped him get to where he is today.

    This day is simply beautiful!

    November 5, 2008 at 2:04 am |
  36. Aiyenitaju Babatunde

    In addition to different lessons I learnt from the whole episode of this great historical election that marks America out for a NEW DAWN, I have learnt the TRANSGENERATIONAL POWER OF A DREAM. Just DREAM IT, it is just the Function of TIME.
    Also, AMERICA is a Land of Opportunity and Equality, Such a Nation built on "WE" and not "ME" Concept is bound to florish and be great.
    God Bless America,
    Martin Luther King Jnr. (a Hero Indeed)
    To all White and Black Americans, 1 LOVE.
    Tunde (from Nigeria)

    November 5, 2008 at 2:04 am |
  37. Marybeth Baughman

    AC–Just as Barak's victory speech was beginning, I told my 14-year old granddaughter over the phone that this is the 2nd most important day of her life, after the day she was born. Several hours later, I realize that this is the 2nd most important day in mine and every American's life. I'm still not sure whether 8 or 200 years of serious depression is over. Has the planet begun to breathe again?

    November 5, 2008 at 1:59 am |
  38. Brandi Monét

    My sentiments exactly. I was at work when Obama became our new president. I said to my co-workers, "Now when a parent tells their child that they can be anything; this election proves that, yes, they CAN be anything!"

    November 5, 2008 at 1:56 am |
  39. BRO4REAL

    We must not get caught up in the hype and let this moment pass us by. Lets celebrate NOV 5 and lets get to work NOV 6. We have alot to do and if we don't start soon 4years will go fast!!!!!! OBAMA has organized a great campaign let use some of those skills and people to began to repair Rural and Urban AMERICA's communities, schools, farms, businesses, etc... YES WE CAN!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:55 am |
  40. Charisse Van Horn

    I believe that the impact of President Barack Obama on the lives of African Americans is so profound, that it has once and for all cut down the roots of racism that grew the trees where nooses once hung.

    November 5, 2008 at 1:53 am |
  41. Vickie MO.

    God works in mysterious ways!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:53 am |
  42. Mike Lodato

    And I believe that every race, creed, orientation, and religion picked up the ability to say the same to their children. America has proved it values the person, bypassing small minded empty fears to take advantage of the value of diversity.

    What other great minds will we find with our eyes are open?

    November 5, 2008 at 1:49 am |
  43. Gary Chandler in Canada

    In retrospect, does this mean the new 'battleground states'; those with less than 55% for the winner; are AZ, CO, SD, ND, MN, IA, GA, SC, and especially MT, MO, IN, NC and FL???
    These are the states the smart campaigners should begin to work on for 2012!
    If the GOPs paid me a million dollars for advice, my first recommendation would be to look at the base, not as a sail, but as an anchor.
    Run the Limbaugh's, Hannity's and Palin's under the rocks they belong under. and Joe the liar, too!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  44. Antuane

    WOW, what can you say now!!! YES, we did!!! Great commentary Roland, this is exciting for all people, not just for minorities, but for all people who made it possible!!! Im totally glad that as an American (first of all), not just African-American, to witness the "dream of today", that all things are possible!!! Im glad to see that a "Change is definitely going to happen, on January 20, 2009!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  45. Frank in West Des Moines, IA

    Barack Obama's speech was a defining moment in my life! As 24 year old caucasian male I can say with profound exuberance that my generation will pass through the door that Barack Obama stands to open that goes far beyond race, sex, age or creed. Yes we can and yes we will!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:44 am |
  46. sarah

    i guess i am way too uneducated to understand this "idea"... but the last time i checked everyone was created equal so why are african americans trying to make sure they have more padding just because barrack won? barrack promised everything to be equal so whats the real problem here? i thought everyone was the same......

    November 5, 2008 at 1:42 am |
  47. lucy

    When a 'kid' says 'I want to be Presidemt' ??? No, when a BOY says 'I want to be Presidemt. Blacks got the right to vote in the 1890's, women in the 1920's. Women are 51% of the population, blacks are 9%. This was a confirmation that everyone cannot grow up to be President. Get over it.

    November 5, 2008 at 1:39 am |
  48. Don, WA

    I've always heard people say "I don't know if we're ready for a black president" – I always disagreed with that almost taped response that I've heard all my life. It seems we are ready. I think this day is one that will mark the begining of not saying...but he/she is black. This is a big step...one that may ultimately lead to the truth of "We The People". There have been undeniable effects on the black population due to lack of respect and oppurtunity. This now is an oppurtunity for the white and black people to be a people. There may be no more need for affirmative action – because of this step tonight toward truth.

    November 5, 2008 at 1:37 am |
  49. Lilibeth

    Roland, like you, I'm so proud of Mr. Obama. I can sense how tonight was emotional for you. Tonight is a start of a new America, a new beginning for all Americans, black, white, brown, yellow. I am so proud how far we've come!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:29 am |
  50. Omar

    McCain did not loose Obama Won! – George Bush and Sarah Palin lost! – Politics aside this was a great day for America!

    November 5, 2008 at 1:27 am |
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