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In Chicago's Hyde Park, Reactions To Obama's Win

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In Chicago's Hyde Park, Reactions To Obama's Win

Election 2008

In Chicago's Hyde Park, Reactions To Obama's Win

In Chicago's Hyde Park, Reactions To Obama's Win

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

President-elect Barack Obama calls Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood home. Residents of the neighborhood offer their reaction to his victory in Tuesday's presidential election.


In Chicago today, Barack Obama turned fully to those transition matters that Mara just mentioned. Our colleague Michele Norris is in the windy city, too.

MICHELE NORRIS: The Valois Cafeteria is a popular spot in the main business district in President-elect Barack Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood. And on this day, there is a big crowd lined up in front waiting to get inside the restaurant - or maybe they're waiting to get inside the restaurant. Maybe they're just gathered here to talk to each other, to share their memories, their thoughts, their observations, their hopes.

Mr. RARA HUMPHREY: And everybody know. They heard that all they life, that it'd be a cold day in hell before a black man became president. It's kind of cold right now. It's kind of cold right now.

NORRIS: Tell me who you are and what you're holding in your arms?

Mr. HUMPHREY: My name is Rara (ph).

NORRIS: And what is your last name?

Mr. HUMPHREY: Humphrey. And I'm holding history right here in my arms - a newspaper with a picture of Obama on it, looking very handsome. Yes, ah, yes, Obama, Obama...

NORRIS: And just - just two words there. It says Mr. President.

Mr. HUMPHREY: Mr. President.

Unidentified Man #1: Oh, yeah...

Mr. HUMPHREY: Obama.

NORRIS: And you are a lifelong resident of Chicago?

Unidentified Man #1: Yes, ma'am. All my life.

NORRIS: What do you think is going to be different now that a man of color is moving into the White House?

Unidentified Man #2: Jobs, baby, jobs!

Unidentified Man #1: Well, what I - what I actually think is, for young guys like myself that have been through so much, it gives us inspiration that we can do whatever we desire. If we put our heads to it, we done heard we can't do it, so it shows us, man, now, you can do everything.

NORRIS: Now, you're talking about your expectations for him. He has expectations for you, too.

Unidentified Man #1: Expectations for us, yes. I mean...

NORRIS: Are you ordering your steps a little bit differently now?

Unidentified Man #1: Oh, yeah.

NORRIS: Living your life a little bit...

Unidentified Man #1: I mean, you got to pull your pants up a little more now, you know what I'm saying? Walk with a little stride, tighten your belt a little bit...

Unidentified Man #3: Leave the sag alone...

Unidentified Man #1: You know, what I'm saying, yeah? We got to do everything as one now...

Unidentified Man #3: You can't sag your pants like you're (unintelligible) or something no more...

Unidentified Man #1: Yeah, you know, we got to start loving each other now. I mean, last night, if anybody has seen anything, I've seen all kind of people together.

(Soundbite of people cheering "Obama")

Mr. WEBB EVANS: My name is Webb Evans.

NORRIS: And how old are you?

Mr. EVANS: I beg your pardon?

NORRIS: How old are you?

Mr. EVANS: 95.

Unidentified Man #4: Oh, 95...

NORRIS: And...

Unidentified Man #4: I'm 80. All right.

Mr. EVANS: Never thought I'd be able to see this day...

Unidentified Man #4: This is a good day...

Mr. EVANS: Yeah, very good.

NORRIS: How long have you been in Chicago?

Mr. EVANS: Since 1938. This is the greatest day in America since Abraham signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, that really didn't free us, because we didn't have anything. No money, no mule, no land. Our condition still had us enslaved. But - so this, to me, is the greatest thing that ever happened in America since Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and I'm just on cloud nine.

Ms. ANN WYATT: My name is Ann Wyatt (ph). I'm just out absorbing the atmosphere, which is divine. I think that this is an act of divinity, 53rd Street and Hyde Park. All of this is overflowing. People are just so elated, it's oozing out. It's stepping in it. Everything is fantastic.

Unidentified Man #5: Give me - this one here, here's 20. This one right here.

Ms. BETTY MARSH: Thank you.

Unidentified Man #5: Uh-huh. Thank you.

Ms. MARSH: My name is Betty Marsh. And I'm an old civil rights activist. I've always believed that we would be free.

NORRIS: Now, what do you have - a big plastic bag here that's full of hats of many colors.

Ms. MARSH: The presidential seal, the president - the first black president of the United States, this is his hat, the president of the United States, Barack Obama. He's for everyone.

NORRIS: Now, there are lots of ways that you can celebrate this moment. Why did you decide to come out and sell these products?

Ms. MARSH: Well, I love Barack Obama, and I know everybody wants a souvenir. So, I want to give them that - that pleasure to have a souvenir. They'll never get this opportunity again.

NORRIS: All right. Now, tell me what you got there. I see a blue hat here...

Ms. MARSH: I got blue, red, pink, navy, royal, and black. All colors to represent America.

NORRIS: Now, this one says the President of the United States. He was not officially the president-elect until last night, so did you rush out and have these made this morning?

Ms. MARSH: They were made, I got them this morning hot off the press.

BLOCK: That story comes from our co-host Michele Norris, who's in Chicago today.

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