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In 2008, I cast my first Presidential vote. I'd missed being of age to vote in the previous Presidential election of 2000 by only 6 months. By 2008, I'd voted in several local and senatorial elections, including my having voted for Barack Obama for senator in my home state of Illinois in 2004.
During the summer of 2005, I interned at a political fundraising firm and got a brief taste of the political arena in Chicago and Illinois. Kwame Raoul, the state senator who filled the seat evacuated by Obama when he was elected to the United States Senate, was among the firm's client. For an exceptionally transient moment in time, I thought I'd enter politics and was enamored of all its glamour.
I remember exactly where I was when Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency. There'd been much teasing in the months preceding his official declaration, on local new shows and before football games, all to innocuous results.
It was February 2006. I was in Cincinnati for a party with friends from Chicago. We turned on the television at our host's home, which was crowded with 18 and 19 year olds, and a few young 20-somethings, tired from the night before, jaded in ways I probably don't need to describe any further, to find Barack Obama on the capitol steps at Springfield making his presidential run official. Everyone in the room understood the significance. I'd never, at the time, been more proud to be a young voter from Chicago.
Since that day, November 4th 2008 and January 20th 2009 have eclipsed the pride I then felt.
Not to diminish my generation's role in the election of Barack Obama, but I can't imagine the impact and overwhelming emotions felt by voters of color in the 1950s and 1960s, who dared to vote in the South while being confronted with threats of violence, of those who partook in and witnessed the election of an ally in Kennedy.
The images below begin to tell their stories:
This Leaders of Womanpower group reminds me of Betty Draper's Junior League in season 3 of Mad Men.
In the coming days, I'll post more images and article excerpts of voters and politicians of color from 1963-1969. I'll also be continuing the Vintage Black Weddings and Vintage Menswear series, and will have more information, images, and clips from Vintage Black Films.
Thank you for reading!
Don't forget to visit