Daphne McWilliams has waited for this moment her whole life. She was born at the height of the civil rights movement, and never dreamed that those days could lead to this.
Yet there she was, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds (if not thousands) of others in Times Square — the crossroads of the world — watching history unfold as Barack Obama became the first black man elected president of the United States.
"I am beside myself. This is amazing," she said. "I am super proud to be an American."
Like McWilliams, Kimberly Barbour was overwhelmed by the announcement of Obama's win. "It's unbelievable. I cannot believe this!" she exclaimed.
On election night, 19-year-old Stephan Marcus — wearing a slew of McCain pins and stickers — appears to be the lone Republican in a sea of Obama supporters. For him, the man who claims to be a maverick really is one. "I think he's better for Israel," he bluntly told MTV News. "My hopes are the economy gets back on track. Israel's security is stable. We can finish up in Iraq. We can hope to see a functioning and thriving democracy in the Middle East."
But, despite wanting more than anything for McCain to win the election, he's willing to give an Obama presidency a try because he sees what it can do for race relations within the country. "I shrug my shoulders and see what happens. He is new. He's very different than what we've seen, so maybe that will work for us — but, from where I'm standing, I don't see it."
"I know he's liberal, but I think, more than politics, is the way he looks at people," 23-year-old Kevin Doyle told MTV News. "I think he has integrity. When I first heard he was getting buzz, I said to my mom, 'There's not going to be someone named Barack Obama as president of the United States.' ... I didn't expect it for the country."
New York native Ashley Warington recalled the moment she could relate to Obama and knew that he was the candidate for her. "Remember Michelle Obama's quote, that 'This is the first time I'm proud to be an American'?" she asked. "As a minority, this was a big step for us to feel politically motivated.
"It's going to take more than four years," she added. "But there has to be a plan to get us to the next level and to keep things moving."
A record number of young people voted in this election, and the enthusiasm that so many voters to the polls was on display in Midtown Manhattan.
"It is crazy! It has been the most exhilarating election year," Minay Bowers said. "It's also been very, very high intensity. It's kind of a little bit of anxiety. The fact that we have even been able to embrace this is amazing."
Having lived through the civil rights movement, Watergate and the Vietnam War, Bowers still feels like this is a momentous occasion. "No! Have I ever in my whole 50 years of life seen anything like this? No!" she exclaimed. "I think our country is in a state of emergency and, despite whatever side of the coin you're on, we're looking for a savior."
Even McCain supporter Marcus was willing to observe, "It shows that America can finally move on and put this race thing behind us."
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