Columbus’ African-American Community Reacts to Historic Election

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Barack Obama’s historic victory has African Americans around the nation celebrating. WOSU went to the King-Lincoln District, an historically black neighborhood, to gather the thoughts and emotions of Columbus’s African-American community.

Signs supporting president-elect Barack Obama hang in the window of Amina’s Kitchen on Mount Vernon Avenue. Amina’s is a small restaurant, just a couple of tables, that specializes in home-cooking. On the menu lists cat fish, fried okra, collard greens and macaroni and cheese. It’s packed. People wait for call-in orders; others gather around one of the tables having lunch.

Sondra Bivens, who’s on her lunch hour, wears a bright purple blouse and rectangular glasses. She’s discussing Obama’s victory and emotions are running high.

“We’ve earned the right to be where we are. We’ve earned it. I’ve earned to see this. Thank you, Lord. I’ve earned the right to see this,” Bivens said.

Bivens, whose business card reads “Evangelist by Testimony,” is overcome with emotion as she speaks about president-elect Barack Obama with a woman behind the counter.

“It’s not about color, it’s about character. It’s about a person’s character,” she said.

By this point Bivens’ cheeks are stained with tears.

“Do you think election is a sign that we’re changing, that the country is becoming better? It’s a sign that the country is tired of the old boys’ bull****,” Bivens said.

Just down from Amina’s Kitchen is Frank Cole’s Barber Shop. A man sits in a chair having his beard shaved, and there are people just sitting around chatting it up.

67-year-old Margaret Coles gives a young man a manicure. Coles said election night took her back to the days when she would take part in Martin Luther King’s civil rights rallies.

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see the day that a black man would be president with a black family with black children in the White House,” Coles said.

Mario Windush also works at the barber shop. He said he was ecstatic and proud when the news came down that Obama was elected president.

“We look forward to the challenges that await us, not only him as a president, but us as a people to back him,” Windush said.

Just around the corner from Amina’s and Frank Cole’s Barber Shop is Johnson’s Body Shop. Worker Dwayne Sullivan sits on a lawn chair taking a break. Thrilled to witness history, Sullivan hopes the country is turning around.

“They finally judging people on what they can do, not on the color of skin, but how they perform. I think they’re finally overseeing the color issue,” Sullivan said.

Kevin Richards comes to the front of the garage from working on a vehicle. He said Obama’s win is a change the country needs because he thinks it was headed in a bad direction. Richards said he’s waited a long time to see someone of color reach the nation’s highest office.

“We’re not going to back him as a black man, but back him because he’s a good man. And this is long over due. So we got the opportunity to put someone there that can perform and do the job. So, you know, it’s long over due,” Richards said.

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