On the night Barack Obama closes the deal, African-American luminaries tell The Daily Beast how they’re feeling, and what they hope will happen next.
Spike Lee, director
"I want a better world. America is in horrible shape and under George Bush and his administration we have lost our way. The past eight years showed us that this is not the best America can be. Now we can finally throw the bums out and move in a different direction. My biggest hope is to make the world a better place. President Obama can do that."
Roland Martin, journalist
“As I write this, I fight back the tears that are falling down my cheeks. I think of the countless men who were hung from trees. I think of the many African American children who sat in one-room schoolhouses, desperately trying to get an education. I think of the black soldiers who fought Hitler and Mussolini, but were treated as second-class citizens in their own country. I think about the fact that in 2009, the NAACP will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The same NAACP that was launched due to a race riot in Springfield, Illinois. How fitting that a man who cut his teeth politically in Springfield, Illinois, and who launched his career in that same city, would rise to the presidency in the centennial year of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Now, I can tell my nieces with certainty, that yes, even you can grow up to be president of the United States. Sen. Barack Obama, thank you. The ancestors thank you. America thanks you.”
Russell Simmons, music and fashion mogul
“A lot of emotions are coming up, but I come to the finish line of any race with no bang. I just don’t get that celebratory, I just think of the big agenda we have.”
Maxine Waters, Congresswoman
“I am so very, very happy to be living at this moment in history. Barack Obama’s election as President is truly a defining moment for our nation. Not only will he change the way the people of the world think about us, but also he has changed the way Americans think about themselves. I hope that he will move quickly to manage the serious problems our country and world must confront, make sound decisions and put the wheels in motion for genuine change.”
Leslie David Baker, actor
"It's gratifying to know that America can be so much more than the land of the free and home of the rest of us."
Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, LLC
“Words cannot describe the palpable enthusiasm and hope that is brimming here in Chicago. I'm in Grant Park —in a tent —watching the results with a large, happy crowd. There are smiles and many tears. I am deeply moved as I sit with an amazing view of history as it is being made."
“I think we'll be seeing that countries, who didn't like us before, will start talking to us now. That —and it will be the first time that there will be a basketball court in the White House. We'll finally have hoops in the White House."
Zane Strebor, erotica writer
“My biggest hope for President Obama, is that he and the Democrats get the economy back in great shape, and that he will encourage people to work together and make the world a better place."
Tommy Davidson, comedian
"It would be nice to see white America trust African American leadership and know that they are in good care. Sort of like the black mammies at the old plantation south."
Mike Epps, comedian
"It's one of the most exciting moments ever for people that deserve to be happy and want to live in a free world. I can tell you that Martin Luther King and Malcolm X will be up in heaven doin' the cabbage patch together."
Chuck Nice, comedian
"I am Black, well dressed and I have large ears...maybe I can finally get a cab in NYC!"