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The Big Day Archive: live from the neighborhood

on November 11, 2008


Starting at 9:01 on November 4, and for the next 14 hours, Oakland North reporters Christina Salerno and Linnea Edmeieir presided from our newsroom over a live conversation among the community–with input from other O.N. readers as far-flung as Switzerland.  From the first polling place lines to the street celebrations as the deciding electoral votes were announced, what follows is one real-time chronicle of history unfolding in our neighborhood.  

9:01: ON  Welcome to Oakland North’s Live Blog! We’ll be updating this throughout the day with tidbits from Oakland, news and other info. Readers can jump in and comment at any time. 

9:11 There’s a morning rush for coffee here at the Nomad Cafe. It’s an early morning voter rush and most people are saying that if they got to the polls right as they opened, it was about a half-hour wait. 

9:13 ON: That sounds about right. This morning it was about an hour wait at the church on Telegraph & 58th in North Oakland. 

10:00 [Comment From daduke] This is daduke, tuning in from Zurich, Switzerland. Keep up the great work. We’re all very excited over here. 

10:01 ON:  Thanks for joining our blog! What is the feeling about this election in Switzerland? 

10:03 [Comment From daduke] Everybody’s keeping their fingers crossed of course. The result has a major impact also on our lives over here. 

10:06 [Comment From mad rocket scientist] A big boooyaaa for Obama and to Switzerland! 

10:09 ON: One of Oakland North’s reporters is from the West African country of Burkina Faso. He says huge election parties are planned throughout Africa for tonight, especially in Kenya. 

10:14 omment From daduke] Yup, there’s also some of them in Zurich. 

10:14 Editor L.:  daduke, what’s the pre-election wind-up been like over there?

10:20 [Comment From daduke] All newspapers, magazines and TV programs have been full with stories,interviews and commentaries for the last couple weeks. It’s a major topic also in private discussions and we all know what’s at stake. 

10:28 [Comment From ann] Hi – I’m a reader in L.A. – love your site!

10:29  ON:  Welcome! What’s the voting scene in LA? 

10:32  [Comment From ann] I live next door to the polling place for our residential neighborhoodand have never, in 14 years, seen a line to vote at this location. Today, there was a line at 7:00 am! 

11:02[Comment From Jesse Phelps] Here’s a little heartwarming story from this morning right after leaving the polls. I had a little asian girl approach me at Isis’ school this morning with a notebook. She was a second or third grader-seven or eight years old. She asked me very seriously who I was voting for. I looked at her sheet, and of course she was asking about the presidency. I told her, Obama, and she said ,”Alright!” and made a hatch mark on her sheet. “That’s twenty eight for Obama and none forMcCain!” I asked her why she was doing the poll, and she told me that she was going to send the results to President Obama. I thought that was a great idea. My daughter, a first grader, was happy that she went to the polling place with me. She was given an ‘I voted’ sticker as well, and is very excited that when she is 18 (only twelve short years away) she will be able to vote on her own. Way to give the children a feeling of enfranchisment from an early age, Obama! Thanks! Jesse  

11:06[Comment From Cynthia Gorney] Something about the old-fashioned fill-in-with-pen ballots was deeply satisfying this morning. No uncertain electronic eye passing, nor pushing of the old thumbtack thingie–this let all of us sit there at the tables with our black ink ballpoint pens and FILL THAT LINE IN,over and over. When I saw the neighbor I go camping with, both of us approaching the lineup at the church polling place, we just grabbed each other’s arms and embraced and didn’t have to say much of anything beyond that. We’ve never felt this way on an election day.  

11:50 [Comment From jacob] walking around UC campus, the election is all people are talking about–in the elevator, on benches between classes… and amazingly, Obama shirts seem to outnumber Cal shirts. Politics more popular than sports for a day? 

11:54 [Comment From Sabrina] At the polling center near Bushrod Park in Temescal this morning, a neighbor joined the long line at about 7:30 with coffee cups and fresh pot for all the groggy early-birds surprised by the crowd. Everyone anxiously whispered about the election, while one woman loudly contemplated what to put on the menu for her celebratory meal. I don’t think anyone there had ever been so glad to be standing in a long line first thing in the morning.

12:56 [Comment From fuzzy bunny] I voted at 11am near Temescal. Not a long wait, but tons of people. All the booths were filed, but everyone else was just filling out their ballot in place – in chairs, on the floor, everywhere! I wasn’t sure that this was even legal, but everyone was behaving themselves and it was all running smoothly. I did overhear a conversation (it was unavoidable in there) between an adult and a young man who came in and was unfamiliar with the process; he just wanted to vote for Obama. While in my dreams he would care about every issue, it was great to see someone who wouldn’t otherwise be at the polls making a point to show up.

12:57 [Comment From jane] Great idea and great site! Interesting to read through the blog, and find such meaningful, touching, wonderful comments. Glad I’ve lived here for 40+ years. I mailed in my absentee ballot, or I’d enjoy standing in my local precinct line. Am sure it’s a buzz with the locals. Of all stripes. That’s America. But curious how an earlier blogger from Zurich was telling of their close watch of this election.  Because on my desk, to the right, is my other absentee ballot. For my Swiss vote, due before 30 November. Someone asked about their voting. Everything is local. Every possible concern is dealt with locally, so Swiss are voting a number of times each/every year. But it is,too, a terrific democracy. With a rotating panel of top people, taking on the leadership of the country. Once said, the president could ride around any tram line and not be noticed. sooo Goooo Obama!

 1:31 [Cynthia Gorney]:  The Votes and Voices grid is so moving—especially one woman who spoke to our reporter Clare Major about the depth of her emotion as she thought about her grandfather, a member of the KKK, and what her vote today means in light of that history. That video was sent to You-Tube–we’ll post the link shortly–and within exactly 37 seconds of its appearing, had generated its first comment, from somewhere in the U.S.: “God Bless You.”

3:27: [Comment From Martin, O.N. reporter]  O.N. reporter Bagassi and I are posted up right now at Cafe Dejena on MLK & 40th. We just got through driving down Telegraph, and like so many people have said already, the No on Prop. 8 folks are out in full force. They have been standing on corners along Telegraph, some for four hours at a time, holding up “No on Prop. 8” signs all day. Some of their reasons? “California can be a leader in fighting discrimination,” one person said. “If someone disabled fell on the street, I wouldn’t just sit there and not help them just because I didn’t know anyone who was disabled. It’s the same thing with Prop. 8. Just because I don’t know any gay people doesn’t mean I’m not going to help them,” said another person. We’ll have photos soon.

3:59[Comment From Ashton] Any yes on 8 people in Oakland? The yard signs are split evenly in California’s reddish counties, like the one I’m in.

4:05  ON: The SF Chronicle recently had a great story about the efforts here by the Mormon Temple in Oakland to promote the Yes on 8 vote. But they don’t seem to be as visible as the opposition.

4:08[Comment From Ashton] So it’s the home field for no on 8. My landlords had 3 no on 8 signs. They’ve owned a house together for a long time. Their neighbors, though, apparently don’t want them to be able to marry. Those houses had 3 yes on 8 signs.

4:45  Comment From Henry, O.N. Reporter]  Was just in Cole Coffee in Rockridge when everyone overheard a guy tell the barista that he didn’t know what Prop 8 was. Things got awkward real fast…like the needle got yanked off a record player during a party. He must not be from ’round these parts, probably.

5:09 ON: Okay, it’s officially 8 p.m. on the East Coast. Showtime!

5:11 ON: Many of the major news networks have made a series of unsurprising calls: Oklahoma and Tennessee for McCain. For Obama, it’s Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, D.C., Maine, Delaware, Maryland.

5:12 ON: CNN has a reporter hologram. Wow. And we thought our live blog was high-tech.

5:43 ON: NBC, ABC and CNN have called Pennsylvania for Obama.

5:49 ON: We’ve been told there’s a street party planned tonight behind the North Oakland DMV on Miles and Avon. Bonfires and big-screen TV are part of the festivities.

6:44 Editor L.:  Reporter Maggie reports Telegraph is packed, traffic moving really slowly, esp. jammed a Ashby intersection.

6:45 ON: The Conga Lounge on College Avenue has called the election for Obama while the bar plays “Celebrate Good Times”

6:45 Editor L.:  Reporter Maggie also says everyone seems to be in a rush, speeding for short spurts and running red lights.

6:50 ON: What does Obama’s projected win in Ohio mean? CNN says no Republican has won the White House without it.

6:52 [Comment From Judy] Love reading the live happening in-the-streets of Oakland…wish we had something like this in Boston!

6:54 ON: George & Walt’s on College Avenue has a big crowd, with the election on three screens and sports on another three.

6:58 ON: “It’s over and I’m looking for a fat lady” – Conga Lounge DJ.

7:11 Clare, O.N. reporter:  From William McInerney, Jr., Oakland Republican: “We have gone down into our bunkers and don’t intend to come up for 4 maybe 8 years.”

7:14 From reporter Maggie: I’m at a block party on Avon Street. Three households on the block are throwing an election viewing party for neighbors and friends. The entrance to Avon from miles has been blocked so cars can’t enter. There’s a bonfire, pigs in blankets and hot chocolate – and beer and wine for the adults. They are listening to Beastie Boys over loudspeaker with images from CNN coverage projected against a house. Little kids are running around and neighbors are socializing. Not too much chatter about election, but that could change as night progresses. The streets surrounding Avon,especially Miles, are packed with little space to park.

7:25[Comment From oaktowner] Hey, it’s party time! We want to know where every public party is happenning in Oakland!!! Gotta know where to go tonight…!

7:28 ON: Good question! There’s the “Hip-Hop for Obama block party at Evertt and Jones BBQ near Jack London Square, featuring “American Idol” singer LaToya London, R&B singers Avant and D’Wayne Wiggins and hip-hop reggae artist Trinidad. The street will be closed off for music and dancing, and various elected officials are scheduled to address the crowd.

7:29 ON: The Conga Lounge on College Avenue is having an Obama “Victory Party”

7:30 ON: Geoffrey’s Inner Circle restaurant in Oakland is having a bash and the Parkway Theater is having an election-viewing party.

7:34 ON: The Alameda County Democratic Party official bash is at the Marriott in downtown Oakland. Where are other election night parties? Chime in here!

7:52 ON: What do you think of CNN’s hologram reporters?

Awesome ( 0% )

Frightening ( 75% )

What the hell?  ( 25% )

8:02[Comment From mad rocket scientist] 

Obama won!!! Congratulations!!!

8:02 ON: CNN just projected Obama as president. 

8:07 [Comment From ON reporter Anna Bloom] Residents who spoke with Oakland North throughout the Election Day at the polls were decidedly Barack Obama supporters, who struggled to think about what might happen should he lose. Some said they expected a riot. This morning at Humanity Missionary Baptist Church, Tommy Jones, who is African American, said he didn’t predict a Bradly effect – the theory that while Caucasians will tell opinion polls they are voting for a non-white candidate, when it comes to casting their vote, they vote otherwise. He said he was certain of Obama’s win – he has the support of a new generation. “Before I got hired for my first job at a grocery store, they told me, ‘We don’t hire your kind here.’ Today there’s less likelihood of that happening. Time has changed things,” he said. “Children today have different values than we had then.”

8:14 Editor L.:  Reporter Maggie reports from Democratic watching party in Oakland: when Obama was projected winner the place went silent.  Silent.

8:16  Editor L.:  Maggie says the silence was followed by soft spoken oh my god’s and whispered oh’s, then bursts of cheers and shouts filled the room.

 8:20 ON: The crowd is insane here! They are crying, jumping, screaming, laughing, dancing. They can’t keep the energy in. – Maggie, from the Oakland Marriott

8:22 ON reporter Anna Bloom:  As polls closed, North Oakland Police Sgt. Bernard Ortiz said “we have had no problems or issues.”

8:22 ON: Cars are honking and people are cheering in the streets.

8:35 [Comment From mad rocket scientist] I love the guy with the “BUSH YOU’RE FIRED!” sign

8:53 ON: There’s a spontaneous parade down Piedmont Avenue in Oakland with more than 200 people, many waving flags. – Mel

9:02 ON: People have taken to the streets, drowning out the noise of celebratory beeps with their cheers. One young black man just ran down 11th street off Broadway, jumping up and down, screaming “it means something to me, it means something to me!” over and over, his voice squeaking from excitement. – Maggie

9:22 Clare, O.N. reporter:  Cal students are out in force, marching across campus and around Berkeley, chanting “U-S-A!” and “O-Ba-Ma!” and “Yes-We-DID!”

9:23 ON: At the Publik House bar on College Avenue, about 40 people watched Obama’s acceptance speech in silence. A few sniffled. The only noise came from pool players, who got glares from the others. The bar erupted in cheers after the end of the speech. –Mel

9:31 [Comment From daduke] I rejoice and celebrate with the American people. Congratulations from Switzerland.

9:38 ON: Reaction from people at the Publik House bar on College: Joan Cabaddu couldn’t speak for about 20 seconds after Obama’s speech. “I’m pretty speechless, I guess. This is a defininitive moment of history. You kind have to celebrate. “

9:40 ON: Vu Ma: “We shouldn’t take our foot off the gas. The reality will still be there after the hangover.”

9:42 ON: Eric Dinwiddie: “This country is supposed to have a bloodless exchange of power. That’s what we just had after the last eight years. That means a lot. This is the first time the youth have voted. I have been waitin 9 g for that all my life.”

9:43 ON: Mario Roaf-Esparza, talking about the challenges Obama will face: “He is going to be the one in the chair.”

9:46 ON: Pastor’s prayer at First African Methodist Episcopal church in Oakland tonight: “We thank God for the storm, for showing us as a people that you are able to bring us through the storm. Now Lord we pray for president-elect Obama.” Then they all joined in a hearty “AMEN” – Martin Ricard

9:58 Editor L.:  At Telegraph and 62nd, Frederick Sanders has been on the corner holding an Obama sign. People are honking, rolling down their windows and cheering. A woman he didn’t even know came up and gave him a hug. – Melanie Mason

10:31 ON: utside Everett and Jones in downtown Oakland, the restaurant and streets   are packed with about 300 people. They are yelling “yes we can!” and “USA!,” with people embracing. Multi-generational families are here of all races. They all said they never thought it would happen in their lifetime and they were scared to believe. Police have blocked perimeter of Jack London square for safety. – Kristine Wong

10:34 ON: Rachelle Powell, 31, of San Jose, who is African-American and white, drove to Oakland with her friend Chenne Buschew from Redwood City.   They heard the news about Obama’s win on the radio. The moment they found out, their hearts soared. They said “Not only is he a black man, but he is about progress, change – change for everyone no matter your race, creed or sex.” – Kristine Wong

10:34 ON: Nolan Coleman, 58, of East Oakland said: “I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime as a black man, but it proves that change can happen.”

10:50 ON: On the corner of 56th and Shattuck there was a spontaneous a gathering of about 30 to 40 people, mostly young, but all different generations were hanging out together. They said they didn’t plan to meet at that spot, but it happened after the results came in. The crowd encouraged all passing vehicles to honk. In the half an hour they were out there, only a cab chose not to. As of 10:30 p.m., they showed no signs of ending the celebration.  One man at the gathering is from Pennsylvania, visiting his son in Oakland. He was “incredibly happy to see his state  blue.”

 Joyce Lee, 27, said the first thing she did was call her 6-year-old nephew and tell him that he can be anything he wants to be.  “Earlier in the day I felt nervous and alone. People can tell you one thing, but in that ballot box you are by yourself,” Lee said.

Her friend added: “I’m not religous, but I’ve been thanking Jesus all night.” -Mel

10:51 ON: The owners of MG Gallery, on the corner of 56th and Shattuck, said McCain’s concession speech was polite, and McCain appreciated that this was a historic election.—Mel

 10:52 ON: Shattuck Avenue and Center Street in Berkeley: At 9:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 4, after UC Berkeley students took to the streets, three young men climbed the stoplight and rose an American flag. An unplanned march from Sproul  Hall began after news broke about Barack Obama’s sweep to victory as the first black president of the United States.


11:02 ON: Good night North Oakland! Thanks for joining us tonight. We’ll have updates on the local election results throughout the week as final tallies come in. Thanks!||||||||||||||||||

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