Barack Obama has become the first black president of the United States beating John McCain who conceded just over five hours after the first polls closed. Speaking in Chicago to a crowd of more than 100,000 people, Mr. Obama said, “Change has come to America”. Mr. Obama’s supporters had started lining up at the park on the Lake Michigan shoreline nearly 12 hours earlier. Throughout the evening, the crowd burst into chants of “yes we can” and when the announcement was made, they jumped for joy and cried tears of happiness. Across the nation of 300 million, people took to the streets, tooting horns and hugging strangers.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark congratulated Mr. Obama on his election and said the New Zealand Government looked forward to working with him. National Party leader John Key said Mr Obama’s victory was historic. Asked whether he thought there would be any effect on New Zealand’s election, Mr. Key said there had clearly been a strong mood for change in the United States but we will only find out after Saturday if there is a mood for change in New Zealand too. Both Labour and National saw advantages for their party in an Obama victory.
Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, a black Kenyan, was raised a Muslim and his mother was white and from Kansas. He also has a half-sister, who is half-Indonesian, and who lives in Canada. Mr. Obama has a wife, Michelle, and two daughters. Mr. Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20th and will immediately face challenges such as the global economic crisis and the war in Iraq.
Contributed by Anita Jones