Hugs that will go down in history

Democratic National Convention delegates were overcome when Barack Obama officially became the first black nominee for US president.

Melanie Stetson Freeman, The Christian Science Monitor

I knew what was coming – but it still hit me hard. Everyone around me was crying.

Change can happen in an instant – or it can come glacially, in tiny increments that eventually add up to something big. One of the best parts of my job is witnessing, photographing that moment when change becomes reality.

This time, it was a sunny afternoon in Denver. I was inside the sports arena where the Democratic National Convention was rolling along as scheduled. Delegates covered in campaign buttons and funny hats were doing their thing – holding signs and cheering on cue.

Photographers were battling their way through crowds and bumping one another to get storytelling shots. On this day, the roll call for each state was taken alphabetically – a tedious process that formally counts up the votes for each presidential candidate.

Finally, the numbers added up to become a historic moment – Sen. Barack Obama became the first black nominee for president of the United States.

As I photographed delegates crying, hugging, laughing – I, too, shed tears. Even though friends and colleagues know I am always the designated crier, my emotion took me by surprise. I was standing in front of the Delaware delegation where this bear of a man was hugging a woman, tears streaming down their pride-filled faces. They noticed I was crying, too, and gave me a big hug.

Whether Obama wins or loses the presidential race, another huge brick in the wall of racial prejudice has fallen, and I was there to witness it.

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