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Selma Democrats elated with election

Jubilation reigned at the Selma Democratic Party’s victory celebration at the Larry Striplin Performing Arts Center on Tuesday evening.

Most in attendance — particularly those that have been in Selma since the beginning of the civil rights movement — viewed Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain in the 2008 presidential election as the dawning of a new era.

“I’m very excited. I was here in the ‘50s when we could not vote,” said Carolyn Bates. “This is a historic moment because now we can vote, and we can vote for an African American. Obama brings many things to the table — unity, education, economics. You name it; he has it. He has a plan for everything.”

Major Madison Jr., a Mobile native, saw the same struggles in his area of the state as he grew up.

“He’s carrying the hopes and dreams of millions of people. We want to see America return to its rightful place as leader of the world,” he said. “The other day, I heard someone put this in caption form. Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King Jr. could walk. Martin Luther King Jr. walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children could fly.”

Others celebrated in different ways. A group of people met and prayed at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, which was one of the sites of mass meetings during the voting rights struggle of the mid-1960s.

Amelia Boynton-Robinson recalled the days of Jim Crow, of separation and the struggle to achieve voting rights and the hope that would come with the election of Obama.

As Boynton-Robinson and others prayed, the votes rolled in from across the country.

At the Performing Arts Center, Tina Smiley was also happy with the outcome, but would’ve been happy either way.

“This is just a historic period all the way around because on the Republican ticket, we have a woman. And then on the other side of the ticket, we have diversity with Sen. Obama as a minority,” said Smiley. “That’s what I love about this — the diversity of it all. And even if I did wake up in the morning and the results were different from expected, I would be ok with that because we as a nation we have to go forward and we have to make this work best for all of us.”

Joslyn Reddick sees Tuesday’s election as an awakening of opportunity within all American Citizens.

“It will be a great day in history — not just for African Americans, but for all people. They will be able to understand that everyone is able to reach the highest pinnacle in this nation,” said Reddick. “I think we are moving to a point where we are finally going to become the United States — the melting pot — where everyone has equal opportunity; everyone is a part of the American dream.”

Leesha Faulkner and Amy Collins contributed to this story.