In his St. Paul victory speech, Barack Obama made no mention of the fact that he is effectively the first black presidential nominee of a major party. But in interviews with African Americans across the country, the New York Times discovered overwhelming pride in the Illinois senator's candidacy and optimism that race relations are improving. "Never in a million years would I have thought this was possible," said one woman in Harlem.
A Ghanaian bus driver in Minnesota says Obama's victory gives him "new goals for my little girl," while a conservative black activist admitted that he "choked up" as he watched the senator clinch the nomination. Many African Americans interviewed worry that race, a notorious wedge issue, might still keep Obama from the White House. But most agreed with the man on 125th Street who called Obama's victory "a monumental step."