"It is the greatest event that has happened in my lifetime. It is the greatest moment in the lives of us black folks, to experience what we never thought we could see."
– St. John educator Guy Benjamin
On Tuesday night, November 4, Cap’s Place in Cruz Bay was strangely quiet. Patrons sat glued to the television set monitoring coverage of the historical stateside election results.
The same scenario appeared to be the case at most of the island’s bars and locally frequented eateries. Many St. John residents stayed up a little later than usual on a typical work night, taking an opportunity to witness unprecedented history in the making.
By Wednesday morning, November 5, Love City was clearly all abuzz about U.S. president-elect Barack Obama! St. John residents seemed to be wearing all the Obama attire they had acquired during the campaign.
Julius E. Sprauve students, teachers and staff took to the streets celebrating the next first family of the United States.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said John Dickinson, owner of Pink Papaya Café, who said he had only one book about Obama left in the store for sale.
Gardener Charles Jackson was beaming about the thought of Obama taking office.
A Message of Love
“He will do good like Bob Marley,” said Jackson. “Obama loves every one like Bob Marley. One Love.”
Obama is a “spiritual motivator,” Jackson added.
St. John Community Foundation Executive Director Paul Devine was pleased that the USVI, and particularly St. John, would have Obama in the White House to represent its citizens, he explained.
“I haven’t talked to one person today who isn’t very happy about Obama’s win,” said Devine. “People are elated. I’m elated.”
Senator At Large-elect Craig Barshinger saw Obama’s win as a dream come true.
“I grew up believing in the dream of Martin Luther King,” said Barshinger. “As a boy I learned to be ‘color blind,’ not judging people based on their external appearance.”
Barshinger saw Obama’s election win as King’s dream coming to pass.
A Dream Come True
“Obama was judged on his abilities, not his color,” Barshinger said. “He was the most highly qualified and the most caring candidate with the strongest potential to reach out to other countries. He has a ‘core of honesty’ that people can see.”
Mooie’s remained open until after 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, November 5, with locals and tourists alike celebrating Obama’s presidential win, explained owner Theodora Moorehead.
A Coming Of Age
“I am delighted that America has come of age,” said Moorehead. “I remember when I was in the south in the sixties. There were still separate water fountains.”
“This wasn’t chosen by Obama, it was chosen for him,” Moorehead added.
The Mooie’s owner and her 89-year-old mother have been talking about Obama’s win since election night, she explained.
The Cruz Bay business owner has talked with a steady stream of tourists from the southern part of the mainland who all told her they voted for Obama, Moorehead added.
St. John educator Guy Benjamin confessed that he had shed a few tears of joy that Barack Obama will be the first African-American to be the leader of the free world.
“Greatest Event,” Says Benjamin“
It is the greatest event that has happened in my lifetime,” said Benjamin. “It is the greatest moment in the lives of us black folks, to experience what we never thought we could see.”
Benjamin believed that Obama was instilled with extraordinary talents.
“Only God gives us special gifts, and they are for special people,” said Benjamin. “All blacks here and in America, have seen the impossible come to pass.”
On November 5, Governor John deJongh expressed his sentiments over Obama’s win, reflective perhaps of many residents’ own.
Hope Restored Around the World
“The election of U.S. Senator Barack Obama as the next president of the United States has filled people around the world with both excitement and pride,” said deJongh. “There is excitement at the possibilities that his election has made possible, pride that America has taken this historic step forward towards fulfilling its promise.”
“All in the Virgin Islands rejoice in the moment,” deJongh continued. “And so do I.”