Harlem Brought Its Soul to Obama Victory Celebration

Harlem Brought Its Soul to Obama Victory Celebration
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Barack Obama's decisive victory resonated throughout Harlem -- the "heartbeat" of black America -- where voters swelled the polls Tuesday, sure from the start that the first African-American president would get a second term.

Now gentrified with big box stores and trendy restaurants, Harlem was home to early civil rights activists Marcus Garvey, Adam Clayton Powell and black separatist Malcolm X, who was assassinated here in 1965.

At Sylvia's restaurant, just around the corner from the Apollo Theater, where blues and jazz greats once got their start, Obama supporters whooped, danced and broke into song.

"I am so very, very happy," said Nicaise Makasso-Kune, shift leader at the local landmark, after the swing state Ohio put the president over the top. "But I am also relieved because I was afraid of Romney -- I couldn't trust him."

The 35-year-old African-American waiter showed off his election bling -- a black shirt, bejeweled with Obama's face, and a matching sequined skull cap.

"It's wonderful, a total blessing," echoed Erik Kilpatrick, a 61-year-old black actor enjoying the festivities.

Columbia graduate student Allie Conti said she had "a lot at stake" in the election. "I am young, a woman and gay," said the 23-year-old.

In the last months of his campaign, Obama voiced strong support for gay rights and lambasted his opponent for his stance against a woman's right to choose abortion.

As the evening progressed, a racially-mixed crowd cheered as each state fell to Obama -- Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. All to the backdrop of classic soul music.

When ABC announced the victor, Steve Wonder's, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" -- Obama's signature campaign song -- thundered through the lounge.

Twelve blocks up at buzzy Londel's, an upscale lounge in the heart of historic "Striver's Row" in Harlem, red white and blue balloons hung from the ceiling as classic rhythm and blues blared through the bar.

Read the full article at ABC News