Black Voters Reflect On Obama's Historic Win

In many states, black voters were a bedrock of support for Barack Obama. In Guildford County, home of the historically black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, young black voters turned out in force.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. We're going to hear about the impact of Barack Obama's election for African-Americans now. First, in North Carolina, blacks made up more than 30 percent of new voter registrations. One of the places with the most new registrations was Guildford County, thanks to young African-American voters. The county is home to the North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, a historically black school. NPR's Audie Cornish visited the campus and talked with students about Obama's win.

AUDIE CORNISH: Breakfast time at the Williams Cafeteria at A&T University, as the students call it, is buzzing with election celebration stories from the night before.

Mr. STEVEN HUNT (Student, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University): I was kind of stunned and shocked at the same time, but I was just - I almost cried. And we just - yes, and we just stood in the room, and we just said a prayer. We just prayed for like five minutes and...

Ms. TIMIA REAGAN(ph) (Student, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University): And watched outside. People was out there jumping. (Unintelligible) in the pool and screaming and yelling and just can't end - Obama and stuff like that. It was like a big party outside. It was like...

CORNISH: Freshmen Timia Reagan and Steven Hunt chatted over biscuits and omelets about their first-ever election. The students were part of a surge that placed Guildford County among the highest in the state for new registrations. Reagan says this election has made her feel more connected to the school's legacy of political action. Nearly 50 years ago, A&T students staged one of the most influential lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ms. REAGAN: They demanded change by sitting at a counter and demanding service. We demanded change by standing in lines to vote. I stood in line for three hours, and that was early voting.

CORNISH: But at the next table over, Kamica Way (ph) and Tony Tyson (ph) are going back and forth about how much a black president changes race relations in America. Way seems like she's still not quite sure.

Ms. KAMICA WAY (Student, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University): Personally, I guess you could say, I'm more - as if race doesn't really matter. Race shouldn't matter. But it does in this country, but as far as me? It doesn't matter right now.

CORNISH: But Tyson insists it will.

Mr. TONY TYSON (Student, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University): Instead of people saying, I want to be like that thug or that rapper that's on TV, they're going to say things like, I'm want to be that - I want to be like Barack. I want to be like someone of his stature. You know, because he's putting a great image out there for the world to see.

CORNISH: And both agreed that they've been inspired to look at themselves differently, and they hope it will inspire the rest of America to look at them differently, too. Audie Cornish, NPR News, Greensboro, North Carolina.

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