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Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008 02:34 pm

Yes, we did

yes, we did

At 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, a downtown Springfield sports bar lowered the volume on the college football matches and pumped the sound of Barack Obama, now president-elect, addressing supporters in the Windy City. Despite the best efforts of one loudmouth who tried his damnedest to drown out Obama's voice, the small crowd's cheers — and joyful tears — were generated in proportion to those of the throng gathered in Grant Park. Part of the elation was no doubt the powerfulness of perhaps our nation's finest moment in selecting its first African-American commander-in-chief. But also, as one Cap City friend said Tuesday, every Springfieldian could boast in that instant one degree of separation from the President of the United States.

Four years ago, Illinois Times was one of the first publications to notice something special about Obama. We put the obscure state legislator on our cover, watched as he snagged his own seat in the U.S. Senate a few months later, and stood outside the Old State Capitol on that frigid day in February 2007 when he announced his run for the White House. We followed him to the Iowa caucuses, highlighted his appeal to new voters, and even gave his conservative opponents the chance to speak their peace. As a good friend of this newspaper recently said, "Your newspaper took its readers along for a helluva ride." Plenty of others over the years have discussed Obama's future in these pages:

"People are beginning to realize the uniqueness of this historic moment. It's not every election that you run into a guy with credentials like Barack Obama's." — Roy Williams Jr., a local political activist who predicted that Obama would win a seat in the U.S. Senate ["Head of the class," March 11, 2004].

"People want to think that the world can be better than it is, that the future can be better than the past, and that's where he's good." — Chris Mooney, a political-studies professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, on Obama as an inspiration ["Barack & Roll," Jan. 10].

"It's a moment in history that an African-American candidate prevailed in such a strong field. I think it's the beginning of a great race for president of the United States." — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses ["Barack & Roll," Jan. 10].

"They are deathly afraid of him. I don't think it's about abortion. I don't think it's about the health-care plan. It's who he is and what he represents, and it scares them to death: You can see it in their eyes." — The Rev. Donald Bailey, a senior pastor at an A.M.E. church in East St. Louis, who pointed to racial undercurrents in conservatives' attacks on Obama ["Demonizing Obama," April 3].

"There are scenarios where you could really have — not a landslide — but Obama winning 350-plus electoral votes . . . just with a mild increase in African-American turnout." — Nate Silver, an electoral statistician who predicted that African-American voters would lead to an Obama victory ["Growing the pie," Aug. 7].

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