In his Rose Garden remarks this morning, President Bush acknowledged the milestone achieved by Barack Obama yesterday when he became the first African-American elected to the U.S. presidency.
No matter how they cast their ballots, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday. Across the country, citizens voted in large numbers. They showed a watching world the vitality of America's democracy, and the strides we have made toward a more perfect union. They chose a President whose journey represents a triumph of the American story — a testament to hard work, optimism, and faith in the enduring promise of our nation.
Many of our citizens thought they would never live to see that day. This moment is especially uplifting for a generation of Americans who witnessed the struggle for civil rights with their own eyes — and four decades later see a dream fulfilled.
On Morning Edition today, NPR's John Burnett told the story of one of those witnesses. 109-year-old Amanda Jones, the daughter of a slave, cast her first presidential ballot for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She set aside money she earned picking cotton so she could afford the poll tax that was required of black voters in her home state of Texas until 1966.
NPR's David Gilkey followed a civil rights activist to the polls in Birmingham, Alabama. He put together this audio slideshow:
House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest ranking African-American member of Congress, described the nation's new landscape this way in a statement his office released this morning:
We can now tell our children and our grandchildren yes we can. We can tell fourth and fifth graders with certainty that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. We can all believe that our country's best days are ahead.