Congrats, Barack Obama. You’ve made history. Now, the hard work starts.
You’ve inherited two unpopular wars, a growing national debt and a weak economy. And you step into the White House to run a country that fights with itself over almost everything.
So, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
You’ll have to show us that the speech you delivered early Wednesday was more than just words.
Deborah Compton-Holt believes what you said.
You came through Greensboro twice on your road to becoming our country’s first African American president.
On your first visit in late March, you met her.
She introduced you. She talked about her lack of health care — and her belief in your vision — before you took the stage in War Memorial Auditorium.
Since then, she’s seen you twice. She also saw your wife, Michelle, in September at the Carolina Theatre. She was right there in the middle, in the front row, holding the Ebony magazine with your wife on the cover. Your wife autographed it.
Today, Compton-Holt keeps that magazine in her family room, along with your book, “The Audacity of Hope,” which you autographed. And on the mantle, near the portrait of her two granddaughters, there’s the photo of you and Compton-Holt together backstage at War Memorial. You autographed that, too.
“My future is set,” she told you that day, “but you have the future of my grandchildren in your hands, and I’m counting on you to help them have a better future.”
And what did you say?
“Deborah, I have two daughters,” you told her. “Their future I have to make secure. So, the future of all children I have to make right, and I’ll do all in my power to make sure that happens.”
Then, there’s Dale Mitchell. He’s 44, a father of two who runs his own landscaping company in Greensboro. He’s Canadian. He can’t even vote. But he spent at least 80 hours the past 10 days trying to get you elected.
On Saturday, you called him at home as he sat by the fire after canvassing all day. You talked to him — and 20,000 other volunteers nationwide — for 90 seconds. You gave them a pep talk, thanking them for their work and urging them to bust gut through Election Day.
Mitchell did. He went door-to-door through neighborhoods near UNCG until the minute the polls closed Tuesday night.
And everywhere Mitchell went, he said the same thing.
“To tell you the truth, I can’t vote,” he’d say. “I’m a Canadian citizen. But I believe in this guy.”
T.L. Cassell doesn’t. He voted for John McCain. When he went to cast his vote at a church on Burnett’s Chapel Road, he claims someone crawled under his van, loosened the bleeder screw and drained his brake oil.
He got home. But he worried he could’ve killed somebody. Meanwhile, he’s filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office, and he thinks he was targeted because of his beliefs.
He’s 56 and can’t work because of a bum left leg. He’s seen soldiers die within arm’s length during his two tours in Vietnam. And now, he wonders about what he sees around him. He calls it “pure hatefulness.”
Then, there’s Addie Cranford. She’s a fifth-grader at Greensboro’s Peeler Open School for the Performing Arts. She’s the same age as your oldest daughter, Malia. She researched you for weeks, and she played you in a debate last week at school.
Yet, she’s not so sure about you.
“What is he going to do? A lot of the stuff (he said) could be false,” she said Wednesday. “He could be lying. Bush didn’t do what he said. He didn’t help at all.”
But then again, look at the mantle at Deborah Compton-Holt’s house. And hear her recount the conversation she had with her 80-year-old mother, Frances, late Tuesday night when everyone declared you the winner.
“I can just rest in peace now,” Frances told her. “It has happened.”
“Ma,” Deborah responded, “we can all rest in peace.”
Don’t let us down, Barack Obama. Don’t let us down.