By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Editor in Chief
Disbelief. Joy. Trepidation. Inspiration. Hope.
A myriad of emotions overcame members of the ACU community when Barack Obama was elected President, but regardless of when, where or how they heard the news, several black students and faculty members at ACU said they were proud to be witnesses to history – the United States of America elected its first black president.
Byron Martin, senior psychology major from Mesquite, followed the returns results at the election watching party in the Campus Center Living Room when several news organizations declared Obama had secured a majority of electoral votes and won the election.
“I was really excited then I just kind of had to stand there for a while and actually see it because I wasn’t really sure,” Martin said.
“I was just thinking, man, I’m watching history. This is something I’m going to be able to tell my kids and my grandkids about – where I was, what I was thinking.”
Martin said he grabbed his cell phone and immediately began to call family members. He soon was connected with his 76- year-old grandmother and broke the news to a woman who lived through the Civil Rights era.
“She never thought it would happen in her lifetime,” Martin said.
Dr. Jerry Taylor, assistant professor of Bible, missions and ministry, said he expected a black man to be elected during his life and was reverent of the historic moment, but was more pleased that the man he believed was the most qualified had won.
“I didn’t know if I would be 47 or 87, but I really believed that it would happen in our lifetime,” Taylor said.
Taylor said Obama’s election gave hope that the nation had made great strides in race relations, but the country still had a long way to go.
“Institutional racism was not voted out of office Tuesday night,” Taylor said. “I think institutional racism is still a reality, but we have made some ground and [are] making some positive steps.”
Taylor said he saw Obama as a positive symbol for racial reconciliation and as an example for African-American manhood, as a strong husband and as a strong father on the international stage.
“I think it will have a positive ripple effect on the African-American community and other minority communities as well,” Taylor said.
Joshua Jackson, senior youth and family ministry major from Wichita, Kan., and president of the Student African American Brotherhood, mirrored Taylor’s thoughts, adding that Obama’s election was and will inspire a large step for race relations in this country, but it was up to citizens of the country to continue the march toward equality.
“I think honestly it eliminates a lot of stereotypes that have been placed on minority groups that we can’t do certain things or we can’t reach certain levels,” Jackson said.
Kenneth Dinkins, senior youth and family ministry major from Toledo, Ohio, and president of Essence of Ebony, said he saw Obama’s victory as a motivation to accomplish his life goals.
“If Barack can get to where he’s at, then I can also do the same when it comes to what I want to achieve in my life personally,” Dinkins said.
Dr. Odies Wright, associate professor of exercise science, grew up in the segregated South and said he witnessed first-hand a slow racial reconciliation in the country. Although he voted for John McCain because he disagreed with the platform of the Democratic Party, Wright said he saw Obama as a natural leader and was proud of the barrier that had been broken in the United States.
“As a kid I was always curious about why, why was there a barrier,” Wright said.
He said as a child he could not imagine a person of color ascending to the presidency, but later as racial relations in the U.S. slowly improved, he believed it was possible.
“It’s something that black kids, and maybe not just black kids, maybe all kids of color can say, ‘When I grow up, I can be anything that I want to in the United States,'” Wright said.