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A Reason To Hope

African-American leaders in the Roanoke-Chowan area are hopeful today following the election of Illinois Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, the first black to hold that powerful office.

Howard J. Hunter III, chairman of the Hertford County Commissioners, said he believed the election was about hope for citizens of his native county.

“Right now they are excited,” he said. “It means hope. I know the people in Hertford County are excited.

“I am excited about having him (Obama) as President,” he added. “I’m glad the Democrats won this year. Maybe we will get some things done that need to be.”

Hunter’s counterpart in Bertie County, Norman Cherry Sr., said he appreciated the historical significance of Obama’s election.

“I grew up prior to integration,” he said. “My life was not a hard one, but I lived through that time and saw struggles people had to deal with.

“Now, to know this country is what it said it is – one where anyone can be what they want to be – is special,” Cherry added. “This is proof that anyone who sets goals and works hard, their goal is attainable.”

Carl White, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Hertford County, said he believed it would take time for Obama to correct the needs facing the nation.

“Things are going to take time,” he said. “There will need to be time for transition and then time for things to get better; things such as health care and the people who have lost their homes. It will not be an overnight thing.”

White also said he believed people in Hertford County believed in Obama.

“According to the way they voted, it was hope for the people of Hertford County,” he said. “Hope for change and hope for something different. It seems that help is on the way.”

Assistant Bertie County Manager Morris Rascoe said he believed the message of Obama’s election should be clear to the children of the United States.

“I like the idea because we’ve always told our children or nieces or nephews they can be what they want to be – especially African-American children,” Rascoe said. “Now they actually see it and it gives them hope.

“I hope it is an encouragement to our young people to study and work hard so they can be successful,” he added. “They see now they can be elected President or CEO of a company or leader of an organization if they are willing to put forth the effort.”

Rascoe also said it would take more than Obama to tackle the problems facing the country.

“It will take all of us – black and white – to make things work,” he said. “With all the problems in our country, one person can’t do it and one race can’t do it. It will take all of us working together to be successful.”

In Northampton County one local leader highlighted the importance of the recent election on several levels.

Northampton County Democratic Party Chairman Howard Ervin sees the election of Obama to the presidency as a victory for all.

“I think, no, I know it’s a great day for America,” said Ervin.

Ervin said he spent Wednesday morning picking up campaign signs. During that task, he said tears came to his eyes while picking up a Bev Perdue campaign sign. Perdue won the governor’s seat and became the first female to be elected to that political position in the state.

“This is about all of us,” he said. “It’s not just about one person.”

Even though Obama’s victory is for all, Ervin said from his own personal stand point he sees Americans’ choice of the president elect as a success.

“My family struggled for a long time for everybody to vote,” he said.

Ervin saw two of his brothers’ struggles during the Civil Rights Movement. One was beaten during a protest while the other was expelled for participating in a sit-in at Alabama State University.

Ervin also mentioned the positives for youth with the election of the Illinois Senator into the presidency in regards to Obama’s stance on education and the President-elect as a role model. Ervin said his two young daughters were enthusiastic about their participation in the historic election.

“I think all of America is celebrating with us this evening,” he said.