"At the time when I came up, I couldn't see beyond the cotton fields," Coakley said. "There wasn't anybody in my life I could look at who could see beyond the cotton fields. And to see this man come the way that he's come, through all the struggle and all the marching and all the hanging and all the lynching and everything that was done in this country, whatever doubts that I have, whatever I feel within me, this is the best country on the face of this earth. And we're not just talking about it. We're living it."
"They were hung, honey. Their homes were burned down," said Merlene Jackson, a 65-year-old poll worker at Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan, referring to violence she heard about as a girl growing up in Valdosta, Ga. Today, "they're coming in and no one is hurting them, no one is shooting them down. I never thought I would see this. It's just joy all down my soul. When you are down so long, you don't think you can get up, and this is the unreachable."
And to think it still could have turned out differently, despite a candidate of such charisma and intelligence on one hand and such a fucked-up economy and foreign policy on the other, if McCain had, for example, picked Joe Lieberman instead of Sarah Palin as his VP. More than 55 million people voted Republican (vs. almost 63 million Democrat), so I have to remember that this is still a conservative country and more frustrations inevitably lie ahead. But for now I'm just going to enjoy it.
Edited to add: The Onion is always a big help in the enjoyment department: "Black Man Given Nation's Worse Job" and "Nation Finally Shitty Enough to Make Social Progress."
And this New York Times editorial summed up the whole thing beautifully -- past, present and future.