Dreams True For Another Kid From Chicago

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Of all the people in the crowd on Inauguration Day moved by the message of Barack Obama, maybe no one's taken it to heart quite like Stephen Gordon.
CBS

Of all the people in the crowd on Inauguration Day moved by the message of Barack Obama, maybe no one's taken it to heart quite like Stephen Gordon, CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports.

"I feel we have like kind of a personal relationship," he said. "He came from my neighborhood."

They're both from the same neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Stephen lives in Altgeld Gardens, the housing project where Barack Obama began as a community organizer.

"Just like him being there and knowing the south side of Chicago," Gordon said. "We feel kind of more important."

So as Obama rose in the polls, and as the chant of "Yes We Can" began to resonate, Stephen began to believe.

"I feel like were gonna be the United States of America once again, like the country we are supposed to be," he said.

Stephen then joined a Chicago group, the Mikva Challenge Foundation, which for eight years has helped high schoolers get involved in politics. He campaigned with legions of other Mikva kids, knocking on doors in four states, starting in New Hampshire.

He said: "I did phone banking. I did canvassing. And I actually met Obama in Concord, N.H., at a rally at a high school."

And at some point it hit him: Here he was a 16 year old from the projects getting voters to support Barack Obama.

"I persuaded a lot of people, and it meant a lot to me," he said.

Twenty-six of the Mikva Challenge students were there today to watch the man from Chicago become President. Not all of these students were Obama supporters.

But it's all part of what this election helped inspire. Lots of the members used to think politics was meaningless.

And now, almost everyone of them hopes to work in public life.

Andrews asked Stephen, for one: Is it fair to say you might be a politician?

He replied emphatically, "I will be a politician, one day."

At the start of his run for the White House, Obama was mocked for basing a campaign on hope. Turns out, the hope was real - and it came to Washington today in the dreams and ambition of a young man from south side Chicago.

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.