Barack Obama's historic victory in the race for president isn't just the tale of a black man winning for the first time the highest office in the land.
It's also the story of so many other people. People like Leigh Robbins, who I met during an election night party held at a restaurant in University City. Leigh, 37, works in the admissions department at UNC Charlotte. She and a male friend were the only white people in a room filled with hopeful, yet somewhat anxious African Americans who seemed to release decades of frustration when news came that Obama had won.
They shouted, cheered, hugged and prayed.
Leigh joined them. She also cried tears of joy. And she remembered her mom and dad. They taught her to judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, as Dr Martin Luther King Jr. had dreamed all Americans would do.
They instilled that trait in her after her mom, who was raised in a small town in South Carolina with tradition conservative Southern values, witnessed a group of white men beating a black man.
Because of that incident, her family rejected the sort of racial hostility embraced by some in the community. To Leigh, Obama's win validated the values she was taught as a child.
“(Obama) is a nonpolarizing figure,” said she said. “He's genuine, and that's something that people – white and black or whatever your race can relate to.”
For Don Taylor, Obama's win means a chance to see real change in the mood of black America. Taylor, a 55-year-old African American living in east Charlotte, remembers the assassination of both King and President Kennedy. He also remembers of the mood of African Americans during that era as being one of frustration.
It's a mood that's still somewhat prevalent, Taylor said. But he said with Obama's victory, that mood can change.
“This is the beginning of something new, a new day, a new time, a new way of looking at life. This is a chance for us to see something really different happen,” said Taylor, who volunteered as an Election Day poll worker.
In the wee hours of the morning following the election, I called my mentor for his thoughts, something I typically do whenever a big story breaks. Leon Carter works as sports editor for the New York Daily News. I've known him since 1992.
With his position comes the responsibility of being a role model to others, something Obama now becomes for an entire generation. Over the years, Carter has mentored dozens of black journalists.
For him, Obama's victory can raise expectations among young blacks.
“Once you see someone who looks like you achieve something (like the presidency), you know there is nothing you cannot achieve. There are no more excuses.”