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Cleveland Leaders Reflect on Obama Victory

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson looks at the election of Barack Obama as more than the historic first in terms of race. Obama also shattered the presumed electoral map. Jackson says that means people of all races, genders and income came together.

Jackson: "Barack Obama, the president elect, is someone who is a man of this time, meaning that he is able to capture the aspirations, the needs and challenges of this time and able to show people that he can move this country in a way that will benefit everyone. Everyone. He is a black man, that is historic in America, and for the world, and he is also the right man for the job."

Jonathan Holifield is director of the Cleveland Urban League. He says Obama's campaign and his victory have changed black politics.

Holifield: "Traditional black minority politics have been grievance based. The Obama candidacy was not grievance based. It was in my view contribution based. What is the contribution many diverse populations can make. I think the notion of contributing to make our country great or better, in restoring prosperity, certainly resonated in all corners of the country.

And across Cleveland, many African Americans talked about Obama’s win in very personal terms. Guy Bluford has made his own fair share of history. As a school kid growing up in Philadelphia, he ignored a counselor who tried to steer him to a trade school. Bluford went in a different direction. He became the first African American astronaut to fly in space. Today he’s thinking about what an encouragement this election will be to African-American kids.

Bluford: "Race does has an impact, but I think the impact, at least today, is -- and I hope this is the case -- that African Americans can look at myself and look at Barack Obama and say, 'Wow, we can do that as well.' The opportunities are there."

Kymberli Hagelberg, 90.3