The election of Barack Obama to the presidency prompts a walk down memory lane for a local civil rights icon.
"I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that I would see this day, that an African American was elected as president of these United States," said the Rev. Dr. Charles Johnson of Meridian.
Barack Obama's presidential victory is being proclaimed by many as a racially transforming event for the United States.
"I am proud. I'm so elated," said Johnson. "Words can't express the way I feel about that."
But history was not made in one night. Obama's win followed decades-long civil rights struggles. Johnson, who was a civil rights leader in the Meridian area in the 1960s, takes a trip down memory lane as he re-visits the historic black district of Meridian, where he says the dream started.
Johnson points to a building on 5th Street that was a civil rights headquarters. He said he and state Rep. Charles Young who are the last remaining civil rights leaders of that era, Obama's win validates risks civil rights activists took years ago.
"Obama was not the candidate for just the black America, because white America helped put Obama over," Johnson noted.
He said this victory proves America is evolving.
"I am proud to be an American. I am more proud than I've ever been in my whole life," Johnson said.
Like others, Johnson compares Obama to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who stood for change not only for African Americans, but for the world. Johnson references a quote from Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech that captures this historic election night.
"When we crossed over last night, we started our trek toward the great promise of this great country. We canceled that old check that this country had written us a long time ago that said insufficient funds. And now we find that there's money in the bank," Johnson quoted.
"I feel it's a long time coming but it's not only good for black people, it's good for all of America," said Frances Johnson, who works at Young's Beauty Shop.
"God bless America,"Johnson said.
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