Special to CNN
By now, it has become almost a cliché: "I never thought I'd live to see it happen."
That common reaction to the election of Barack Obama, an African-American, to the presidency of the United States captures much about the country's troubled racial history.
Black people have been a presence on the North American continent from the early 1600s, and the 1500s if you count the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine, Florida.
Yet, the fact that we were brought to America as slaves and had to wage a centuries-long battle for freedom - and then for civic and civil rights - has often shaped perceptions about what is and is not possible for blacks to achieve.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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