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Local Civil Rights Pioneer Moved by Obama’s Victory

For African Americans who lived through the civil rights movement and bore witness to segregation, the election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, marks an emotional milestone. Springfield City Councilman Denny Whayne is one local African American who was moved by what Obama’s election means for the country. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports.
Denny Whayne says he was a pioneering activist during the civil rights movement in both Springfield and Tulsa, Oklahoma. When asked if he thought he’d ever see the day a black man would become president, he says a speech made by Robert Kennedy in 1968 gave Whayne the feeling that the day would come.

Whayne says, "He made a statement that 40 years from now, a black man would be president of the United States. This is 2008, 40 years later. And I'm so glad that it happened in my lifetime."

Whayne watched the announcement of Obama as President-Elect at the Greene County Democratic party in the Clarion Hotel Tuesday night. He describes the atmosphere at that precise moment.

Whayne says, "There was so much electricity in that room. It just sent chills through your body. There were tears of joy, there were shouts, there were handshakes, there were hugs."

Whayne says the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s “I have a dream speech” give insight into why the country has taken such big steps from segregation to the election of the first black president less than half a century later.
He adds that Obama as President-Elect is prolific for everyone.

Whayne says, "It was history made for everybody, not just for black America, but for the whole world."

For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser.