Barack Obama, Crossing A Milestone

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., waves to supporters before speaking at a primary night rally Tuesday, June 3, 2008, in St. Paul, Minn. Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night in a long-time-coming victory speech that minced no words about his opponent in the fall campaign, Republican John McCain. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle walked into history's arms last night - and gave a wink to the future, CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts reports.

"Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey," Obama said.

That playful parting gesture on stage? It's the one young people call "giving a person a dap."

Perhaps it was a metaphor - America is changing.

"We have never seen a candidate like this," said Historian James Thurber of American University. "It's not just African Americans celebrating his candidacy. It's young people in America. We've had a 20- to 30-percent surge in turnout in primaries and caucuses in America by the young people."

It was the major headline in every major newspaper at home and abroad. Just like JFK's journey as the first Catholic President, America crossed a milestone

Obama's relatives from Kansas to Kenya celebrated.

"We are praying for him to win the general elections," his uncle Said Obama said.

They're not alone. From a bar in Los Angeles … to a beauty salon in Charleston … to a pulpit in Cleveland, people are celebrating the change.

"It sends chills up my spine," said Rev. Martin McMickle of Cleveland's Antioch Baptist Church.

McMickle is a member of the Ohio Delegation that will nominate Obama for President at the Democratic Convention.

For him, though, it's not simply a privilege, it's personal. It's the story's dark past.

"Here I am reading about a member of my family tree in 1930 who was shot to death daring to present himself to vote," McMickle said. "Seventy-eight years later, I will be in Denver voting as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention."

What does it mean for America?

"Well, it means that in some ways Americans have gotten beyond the bugaboo of race," said Ron Walters, who was senior advisor to the Jackson campaign.

Not long ago in America, that would have sounded like a dream.

"I have a dream that one day my children will live in a nation where they'll not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," Martin Luther King said 45 years ago.

And exactly 45 years to the day that Dr. King made that speech, an African-American will accept the nomination of his party.

At 46, Obama's a beneficiary of the Civil Rights movement, but not beholden to it. The son of a black man from Kenya, a white woman from Kansas, and the dream of generations past.

"What do you think [the relative who you mentioned] would say?" Pitts asked McMickle.

"After he cried and cleared his eyes, he would say, 'I am so glad that trouble don't last always," he said.

Whether Obama wins or loses in November, one of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken.

And there's a new bridge for a new generation.
  • Byron Pitts

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