As an international student, I could not completely identify with the euphoria of SC State students when Barack Obama was announced the projected winner of the 2008 elections.
I was happy that Obama won and I understood the historic significance theoretically, but I was used to black Presidents [In Trinidad and Tobago] so I did not jump out of my skin when I heard the news.
In fact, election day was the first time I even heard the song “My President iz Black.” No I don’t live under a rock, I was just in University Village for a couple of days.
It was as if SC State won a collective lottery. Students mounted their cars in jubilation, and screamed at random persons in the street.
As I was making my way back to to my room after working on The Collegian for the entire day, [13 hours, while everybody else had a holiday], someone said “the band is playing at Fine Arts.” I thought OK, one last stop to get more pictures.
As I stepped out of my friend’s car, I felt as if I entered a science fiction movie.
Students were running towards the Fine Arts building, out of what seemed like nowhere, carrying clarinets, horns and other instruments.
Dressed in pajamas and hoodies the look of anticipation on their faces was exciting, but eerie.
I knew then and there, I would not get to my bed anytime soon.
As I followed the band along with what seemed to be the entire school, I marveled at the unplanned unison that Barack Obama created.
Armed with a gigantic camera around my neck that I really did not know how to use, [I would later find out, that I did not turn on the flash, rendering all my pictures useless], I stood amazed and almost proud like a parent, of how students mobilized themselves, without direction from faculty or staff, and without fighting or any other stereotypical black youth behavior.
After almost being knocked over by a swinging drum a couple of times, [because positioned myself too close to the band to get flash-less pictures] I exited the crowd, [pictures or no pictures.]
It was not until the following day when a student showed me a power point presentation he was working on, did the significance of this even really hit me.
I remained stoic as the slides rolled on showing images of civil rights demonstrations and fire hoses bulldozing human beings; images I’d seen in a dozen movies.
This was until slide seven; a slide showin an image of a black man and woman hanging from a tree surrounded by white on-lookers, introduced with a power point bouncing effect.
I got it then. “My President is black;” It means he has our back. Yes this election was largely about race, but justifiably so. Barack Obama symolizes hope.
Hope that Katrina would never happen again. Hope that a black child could become what ever he or she dreams of.
Hope that black issues would not take a back seat and more importantly hope that America can see that we are just as good as every other race.
Dervedia Thomas is editor in chief of The Collegian, the South Carolina State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.