My friend Matt MacFadzean, who lives in Toronto, took a roadtrip to Chicago for the big day, and was in Grant Park when the election results came in on Tuesday night.
On Facebook, he posted a video of the bedlam in that park the minute after the announcement. It looks like he just opened his celphone, hit record, raised the phone up over his head, then forgot about it while he danced on the spot for a little over a minute. The video doesn’t show anything, really- the park is dark. You can see some lights and a big screen off in the distance, but the image basically just streaks around randomly as the phone jitters.
What the clip lacks in visual information, though, it makes up for a hundredfold in sound. It’s so loud I flinched, then I laughed out loud alone in my apartment and kept laughing for a whole minute. You can’t actually see a single person in that crowd, but the sound of all that joy is unbelievable. The sound of that crowd is a blazing, loopy, gorgeous tantrum of cheering and yelling and crying and screaming and laughing and jostling and happy. There’s no fade-in, and there’s no fade-out, so it sounds like it goes on forever. I watched it three times.
Here’s Matt’s Facebook note on the experience:
Election Day Part II
Wednesday November 5, 2008, 2:21am
i was there.
it will take me several days to figure out everything i just went through in being part of that but it was a lot. i was lucky enough to share it with my dear friend Charlotte who i just happened to run into. in a crowd of tens of thousands. imagine.
and it unfolded. and the excitement grew. collectively it started to dawn. but no one “went there” yet. we waited. we sat. we stood. we held our breath. we were patient. and then it happened.
and it took the crowd, at least around us, a good ten or fifteen minutes to figure it out. everyone had their jaws dropped. we’d all wanted it so badly. but it actually happened. the good guys won. ideals had triumphed over cynicism. this was new. everyone was aghast. really ? the black guy won ? really ? all i could say was “unbelievable” because i could not yet believe it.
people danced. people sang. people called out.
but mostly, people cried. all around us people cried.
we had spent the rally behind a group of middle-aged black women. they all cried. because they felt so hard the significance of this victory. beside us a group of young black girls, too young to realize the magnitude of what their middle-aged sisters were crying about, also cried. because of what they would never have to go through. they phoned their grandmothers.
everyone hugged. strangers hugged. it happened. it actually happened.
for me, personally, the idea of this event was something i have longed for always. it’s as pure as kermit dreaming of a better world and a rainbow, but mixed with the struggle for right and the steadfast belief paid for by the blood of thousands. it hearkens to the best part of everything inside all of us, and that makes me sing. with the election of this man, i am again allowed to be outwardly optimistic about the universe. i can believe without shame. i soaked up as much as i could and did my best to pay attention. and one young girl said to her friends with her eyes bugging out (i am not making this up):
“i have no health care. i’m failing school. but i have a black president.”
well there it is. for a large part of the crowd, and for that matter of the world, for africa, for anyone of colour anywhere, this is immense and beyond anything i could ever understand. but there in the crowd, it was a feeling i was welcomed into, it was not exclusive. we were all together. in a new world. smiles. holding hands.
the sense in the crowd was of complete acceptance. there was no fighting. no one booed mccain’s speech. there wasn’t even any pushing. it was loving. it was love.
here is a lincoln. truly. here is a man whose steady belief in bigger things created a brilliant unheard of campaign that could not be stopped. and who hopefully gets a second term. because in his first, while he will inspire the world and the world will once again embrace america, and perhaps more than ever before, he won’t be able to do anything drastic – there is too much ground work to do – his country is a mess and he’s gotta clean it up. BUT. WHO he is. is already changing the world.
it was in the moment of collective jaw drop, that ten or fifteen minutes, that the world began it’s shift. and we were done wishing for the end of something. we were thrilled. because something even bigger was just beginning.
america is on the cusp of a beautiful period and we are lucky, yes, lucky, to witness it. as canadians we are so quick to smugness in talking about americans. but this sort of thing would never happen in our country and obama’s election should give us pause for humility. america is an incredible place. and it’s people are truly inspired to ensure that this shift happened. they are not a people afraid of broad strokes.
tonight i felt inspiration, beauty, peace, and love. i also felt completely safe. in crowds of thousands and thousands. but the overwhelming feeling through all of it.. through the tears, the patience, the people, and the wonder… the best word i can come up with is “gentle.” it was a very very gentle display. it is a gentle that has been earned. i learned many things. i cried too. for my own love of humanity. that i haven’t touched on in too too long.
i’ll post photos and video tomorrow once i have a chance to go through them. but first i will drive off into an entirely new world. that, just for a moment, has a chance at peace.
- Matthew MacFadzean