Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race

By Thomas J. Sugrue | Go to book overview

III

“A More Perfect Union”?
The Burden of Race in Obama's America

On November 4, 2008, about two hundred thousand people gathered in Chicago's Grant Park. The faces in the crowd— white, black, Latino, and Asian—all waving little American flags—embodied Barack Obama's vision of an interracial America, one that he had so eloquently presented just eight months earlier in Philadelphia, in the defining speech of his political career. There Obama offered Americans a way past the nation's deepest divisions—calling for a “more perfect union” to overcome the nation's deepest-rooted divisions through a shared sense of purpose.1

Smaller celebrations erupted spontaneously in many Chicago neighborhoods. In Puerto Rican Humboldt Park and Mexican Pilsen, fireworks went off and crowds gathered in restaurants and bars to cheer the president-elect. Despite prognostications during the primaries that Latinos would be hesitant to support an African American presidential candidate, Mexican American votes in the Mountain West and Cuban and Dominican American votes in Florida were decisive to Obama's victory. Students in Hyde Park took to the streets, as they did in college towns around the country, cheering

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