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As a union that champions and prides itself on diversity, the ascendancy of Barak Obama to the United States presidency is a truly monumental event for many staff and members. Here are some CUPE voices on what the Obama win means to them.

This is one of the biggest events in my lifetime; that a person who looks like me is president. This is a historic change for my children to see a black man as one of the largest political figures in the world. It validates why we are asking for the things we are asking for every day of our lives.  While race is still a factor, our future generation will see that there is much that can be achieved and there is hope.”
Yolanda McClean
Co-chair, CUPE Ontario Human Rights Committee
National Diversity Vice-President, Local 4400

“The Obama win demonstrates to me that Americans recognize the importance of character and integrity above race. And this will assist them in building a more cohesive nation state. As a person of colour, I believe that my dreams can come true and I will be able to achieve them through my deliberate and focused effort.” 
Dave Hylton
Local 1356

“At the same time as he represents progress in terms of race relations, the Obama win transcends the divisions of race. Ordinary people are wanting to come together to create a new world and they have found a champion in Obama.”
Antoni Shelton
Executive Assistant, CUPE Ontario

“I never expected to see a president like Obama in my lifetime. It makes me so proud. The fact that he’s gotten so far goes to show that America is looking beyond race and what he looks like,  to what he’s saying about where he wants to take the country. “
Brian Davis
President, Local 4365

“This presidential campaign victory holds much racial symbolism for many United States citizens and keen observers abroad. However, as trade unionists and social justice advocates, we must focus on substantive changes for the working class in the United States and throughout the world. Obama’s victory will not temper the united economic, political and military hegemony abroad. Neither will it mean the working class will achieve robust universal programs, weakening of the elite’s stranglehold over economic and political decision-making, and greater ease in unionizing unorganized workers.”
Ajamu Nangwaya
3rd Vice-President, CUPE Ontario Executive Board
Chair External, Local 3907
Equity Vice-President, Toronto District Council

“I’m overwhelmed that this could happen in my lifetime. This is really part of Martin Luther’s dream. But it makes me look at Canada’s recent federal election and there’s no one that looks like me. If our country’s mainstream parties continue to keep us on the fringe, then we don’t have a voice. We will need to be more aggressive and run strong campaigns as independents if necessary.”
Mervis White
CUPE Staff Rep

“This is history in the making. Everyone is energized. People have looked forward to this all their lives. Everyone will benefit from Barak’s presidency, his platform for change and the fact that he is bringing everyone together. Through him, everyone is seeing themselves as American, not black or white, or Latino or Asian. I believe it means change in the real sense of the word; change in peoples’ perceptions as to how they see the world and how they see others.”
Ese Atiyota
Local 966