The Speech: Entertainers React To Obama Victory

On Wednesday, November 5, 2008, shortly

after midnight, Senator Barack Obama addressed his nation for the first time as

its soon to be 44th President. For eighteen minutes, in front of a

crowd of approximately a quarter million people representing Americans from

every race, creed and age group, President-Elect Obama expressed gratitude,

abated fears, and spoke of the challenges ahead.

His speech came nearly one hour after

he was declared the clear winner of the 2008 Presidential Election, becoming

not only the first African-American president of the United States, but also

the first Democrat since the first Senator to be elected to the Oval Office

since John F. Kennedy and the first Democratic Candidate to the popular vote by

such a wide margin since Lyndon Johnson did it in 1964.

But even before the statistics were

released, the significance of this moment was clear to the Hip-Hop Generation,

the same group who, according to the pundits, was responsible for Obama’s

victory. By the time the President Elect hit that stage in Chicago’s Grant

Park, words of hope, feelings of encouragement and preparations for the work

ahead where transmitted via many of the same technological advances credited

for the success of the Obama campaign.

Below, we bring you the Obama victory

speech in it’s entirety, with some commentary from the Hip-Hop community.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where

all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is

alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is

your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in

numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four

hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this

time must be different, that their voices could be that difference. It’s the

answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black,

white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not

disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been

just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue

states.We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

“I feel that now it is time to become

the American Dream. To be stronger as a people and to understand that my

parents and the struggles of our past leaders did not go in vain.” –

Bonecrusher

“This

is my proudest day as an American. We have elected a leader that represents

change and unity. Barack Obama has carved his place in history as a true beacon

of Hope!” Nick Cannon

“Obama stands for hope, he’s a great

representation for real people. He helps clear the smog and smoke that has been

preventing us from seeing the future. Now our children have a fair chance.“ – Billy Danze

 

“It’s a blessing to conquer all obstacles and roadblocks in our

way, now its on us to support what we believe in to conquer that long

road/recession we are facing ahead of us.” – Trae Tha Truth

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to

be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their

hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better

day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this

date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

“There’s a new

benchmark.  I think a lot of the

psychological chains on Black people have been erased tonight. I think that’s

one of the things that his presidency is gonna mean. There’s literally no limit

and we truly can achieve the zenith.” – Fonzworth Bentley

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious

call from Senator McCain. Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign.

And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has

endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are

better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I

congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And

I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the

months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his

heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of

Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect

of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of

my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my

life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.

“This is an

amazing, definitive victory. The melting pot of the United States–young and

old–has spoken. Change is here. We are all engaged again in democracy.

President-elect Obama has his work cut out for him, and at this amazing moment

in U.S and world history, the “VIBErant” citizens of America are

clearly ready work to turn our best hopes into reality.” Danyel Smith,

Editor in Chief of Vibe magazine

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have

earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s

no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that

made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond

measure.

“Tuesday night was really a thank you night. It’s a

thank you to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, to Dr.

Benjamin E. Mays, to Rosa Parks, to Fannie Lou Hamer, to Dr. Joseph E. Lowery,

to Andrew Young, to Rev. C.T. Vivian, to my great-grandparents, and

grandparents and parents, to your forefathers and all of the unsung heroes who

were confident that this day was coming. My posture is really that of thanks. I

just can’t wait to see Malia and Sasha running around on that lawn. That’s the

image that I want to see.” – Bentley

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank

you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this

campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the

history of the United States of America. To my chief strategist David Axelrod

who’s been a partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team

ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am

forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It

belongs to you. It belongs to you. I was never the likeliest candidate for this

office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was

not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines

and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was

built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to

give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their

generation’s apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that

offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young

people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of

perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and

organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the

people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

“I feel like I am a part of history.

Just being a part of the process of voting. I forced my family, friends, and

colleagues. We have a responsibility to change our reality. We must continue

the movement. There are No excuses NOW. Finally, we have a Black President.

This is an example and testimony that any minority can aspire and attain anything

they want.”  – Fat Joe

“None of these presidents ever meant nothing to me. I

know it might sound crazy, but none of them meant nothing to me. No matter how

much they said they were gonna do, or they tried to do, or they actually did,

it meant nothing to me and my type of people.” – Busta Rhymes

This is your victory. And I know you didn’t do this just to win an

election. And I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand

the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we

know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime

— two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up

in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for

us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall

asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or

save enough for their child’s college education. There’s new energy to harness,

new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to

repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there

in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful

than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will

get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree

with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government

can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the

challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And,

above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only

way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick,

calloused hand by calloused hand.

“God

forbid, if too much damage has been done if Barack cannot really make all the

improvements, if everything that we’re looking to get from this man we don’t

get, the fact that he’s willing to bear the weight and take on the

responsibility, that speaks in volumes to me. That speaks in volumes to our

people.” – Busta Rhymes

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn

night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for

us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things

were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new

spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of

responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look

after not only ourselves but each other. Let us remember that, if this

financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall

Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one

nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same

partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so

long.

“Anytime you get

to witness something you were told would never happen, it’s life changing

because you see a piece of the barrier called impossibility knocked down. But

at the same time, now more than ever we gotta play our part and be held

accountable for our neighborhoods and generation. We can’t sit back and yell

‘save us Barack!’” – Playboi Tre

“The change was not just him getting elected. That’s

where it begins. But it’s Barack Obama’s job to provide the vision and

leadership. The work begins now. And I think for us, as a people, we’ve come

this far by faith, but I think now we really have to redirect our priorities,

which are education, putting our faith first, our pride, our dignity, taking

care of our families, taking care of our communities, learning to care for one

another again. Return to the teaching of our elders. Barack needs us, just as

much as we need him. We are all in this together.” – Fonzworth Bentley

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the

banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the

values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are

values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great

victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal

the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far

more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have

strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans

whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I

hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments

and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of

the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn

of American leadership is at hand.

“I am ecstatic! I got the news

arriving in the UK, I’m so proud of the Americans for making that change

happen! Let’s go towards a great new future!”  – Estelle

“This was a

necessity to preserve America itself. With Obama as a spokesperson, this nation

will be able to accomplish its agenda. His legacy has changed the face of

America. Now the question is: will it change America?” –  Immortal Technique.

“While

we enjoyed this historic moment and victory for change, let’s work smarter and

harder to show the world the change within America. People are paying

attention. We have a “unique” platform to impact change. Let’s make

it happen and today as we continue to move in a  greater direction.”

– Londell McMillan, Publisher of the Source Magazine

 

“Barack Obama is a movement.  He has given a new

hope to people across the world that hasn’t really been seen since Dr.

King.  I’m glad that I was able to witness and share this experience with

my family and especially my kids.”  Shawty Lo

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To

those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have

wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more

that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or

the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty,

opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can

be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and

must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for

generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her

ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to

make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper

is 106 years old. She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when

there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her

couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the

color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in

America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times

we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American

creed: Yes we can. At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes

dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the

ballot. Yes we can. When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression

across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new

jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was

there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes

we can. She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a

bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We

Shall Overcome.” Yes we can. A man touched down on the moon, a wall came

down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and

cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times

and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much

more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to

see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann

Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

“I’m glad that I’m alive to witness

something that has been whispered about since I was born. It’s cool to see a

mixed nation embrace a black man that’s proud to be a black man. And this is my

first time I’m voting, the main reason [being] my last name!” – Damon “Dame

Grease” Blackman

 

“I

registered to vote and actually voted for the first time this year and I am

proud I was a part of history. I never thought I would live to see a black

President and I hope this is the beginning of a major change.”-Gorilla Zoe

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of

opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace;

to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of

many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with

cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with

that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

“I watched a Black man become president

in the presence of my grandmother, mother and little brother. I feel a feeling

that no words can describe. America is beginning to reflect our own words, that

it seemed out country had once forgotten. We are all created equal, and now

viewed as such. I feel as though I can conquer the world. No man or woman can

stop me from making my dreams come true and in that, I hope to change lives of

other people for the better.” – Trey Songz

 

“President

Barack Obama’s victory marks the birth of change. The birth of pride,

progression and inspiration. This is validation of the timeless cliché that

anything is possible. Celebration is in order as we welcome a new

America!” Willie The Kid

 

“I feel proud and hopeful now that

things will change. As a father, a sense of security overwhelms me. This is a

start that our people need to better themselves. Out of this win, I feel that I

will be a better man and I encourage other men to use this as motivation to do

better.” – Punchline of the group E.M.C

 

“Today

is a new world! Your President is Black! This country and the world are a

better place. All that this nation has endured over the last 8 years – 9/11,

Katrina, The Iraq War, Gas Prices, The Economy, Gore losing, Kerry losing and

Bush – was all for this to happen. Change in America and change in the world.

You better know that if Gore or Kerry had won that Barack Obama would have

never had a chance, so all this happened for a reason. All this struggle had

its purpose. This was our struggle together. So be proud cause now YOUR

PRESIDENT IS BLACK!” – Isaac “Ike Dirty” Hayes III

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless

the United States of America.

 

 

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