Rossie Toliver never thought he’d see this day: A black man contending for president, and a woman battling for the vice presidency.

“You’re in awe,” said the president of the NAACP Kokomo chapter. “You begin to realize, ‘Yes, it really is happening.’”

Toliver believes the change in social attitudes has shown minorities and young adults they can achieve whatever they set about to accomplish.

While he’d like to see a breakdown of racial barriers, Toliver doesn’t want Barack Obama to win the minority vote because of race any more than he’d want to see him lose because of his skin color.

“Obama’s got to represent all the people,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to be good for everyone at large, not just African-Americans,” he said.

He said he doesn’t believe race will be the determining factor.

Willie Stroman, president of the board of directors of the IBE Kokomo Chapter, agrees.

“It’s pretty evident at this stage in our lifetime the economy is the biggest issue affecting everyone,” Stroman said.

Win or lose, he said a minority coming so far in a presidential campaign has shown growth in the American people. It has also inspired more minorities in the political realm, he said.

“I just think it would be an accomplishment regardless,” he said of the gains a black has made in pursuit of the highest public office.

“If he doesn’t win as an African-American president, and Sarah Palin gets in as a female vice president, we’ve made progress either way. We don’t want to lose sight of that.

“It will be progress, an African-American being president or we have a female as a standing vice president of the United States, second in command of the most powerful country in the world,” Stroman said.

Toliver believes Barack Obama’s historic run for office has inspired more minorities to get out the vote this election.

The numbers are proving him right.

Voting on Kokomo’s northeast side was running far ahead of the normal turnout.

By 4 p.m. at Precinct 32, which votes at the Carver Community Center, 500 of the 900 registered voters had cast ballots. The normal turnout ranges between 300 and 340.

“It’s a lot heavier than normal,” said John Eklem, an inspector at the precinct for two decades. “There are more people involved in this election. The parties are getting people to the polls.

“I’m surprised at how much higher the turnout is than normal,” he continued. “A lot of new people are voting.”

Tatyana Snow, 21, was excited about casting her first ballot, although she could have already voted in three previous elections.

“I didn’t think about voting three years ago,” she said before entering the Carver Center on Tuesday. “I don’t agree with the president we have right now.”

Snow said she was voting for Obama because his morals are more realistic.

“I’ve been following the presidential campaign more than the others,” she said. “I’ve followed his campaign. He’s really different and has good ideas.”

The turnout at Precinct 34, which votes at Memorial Gym, was also higher than normal, according to inspector Tracey Buckle.

Of the 750 registered voters, 474 ballots had been cast by the middle of the afternoon, including 202 absentee ballots.

“It’s a lot more than normal,” she said. “There are a lot of first-time voters and some people who have not voted for a long time. It’s been steady.”

Buckle expected the turnout to be higher.

Voting in Precinct 38 at the Dunbar Building was described as normal by inspector Becky Wood. She said by 5 p.m., there had been 376 ballots cast.

“It pleases me,” she said of the turnout. “We saw a lot of people come back. This is a historic election, an important one to be a part of.”

It was also an election with few problems, Wood said.

“We anticipated a higher turnout,” said Bob Stephenson, chairman of the county Democrat Party. “There was a strong effort by the Obama campaign. Traditionally, that is our area. There was excitement, and we expected a strong turnout.”

Democratic contender for Howard County commissioner, Bob Hayes, said Obama inspired him as a politician. He said many blacks tend to run only for office in predominantly black districts.

“I think that whole paradigm will change,” he said.

While he doesn’t believe race should be a factor, he does see a minority holding the most powerful position in the world as a means to break racial barriers. He expects to see more minorities step forward in political races.

“I think African-American parents can truly say to their child, if Barack Obama gets in, ‘Yes, you can be president of the United States if you want to work hard.’”

Most importantly, it would be a statement to the world.

“To me, as an American, I would be very proud because it would show the world, ‘Look how far we’ve come.’ We’re viewed upon [by] many countries in a bad way. ‘Hey, look at America, we are tolerant. We are inclusive.’”Historic election inspires minority voters

n Northside poll workers report increased turnout.

By MEGHAN DURBAK and

KEN de la BASTIDE

Tribune staff writers

Rossie Toliver never thought he’d see this day: A black man contending for president, and a woman battling for the vice presidency.

“You’re in awe,” said the president of the NAACP Kokomo chapter. “You begin to realize, ‘Yes, it really is happening.’”

Toliver believes the change in social attitudes has shown minorities and young adults they can achieve whatever they set about to accomplish.

While he’d like to see a breakdown of racial barriers, Toliver doesn’t want Barack Obama to win the minority vote because of race any more than he’d want to see him lose because of his skin color.

“Obama’s got to represent all the people,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to be good for everyone at large, not just African-Americans,” he said.

He said he doesn’t believe race will be the determining factor.

Willie Stroman, president of the board of directors of the IBE Kokomo Chapter, agrees.

“It’s pretty evident at this stage in our lifetime the economy is the biggest issue affecting everyone,” Stroman said.

Win or lose, he said a minority coming so far in a presidential campaign has shown growth in the American people. It has also inspired more minorities in the political realm, he said.

“I just think it would be an accomplishment regardless,” he said of the gains a black has made in pursuit of the highest public office.

“If he doesn’t win as an African-American president, and Sarah Palin gets in as a female vice president, we’ve made progress either way. We don’t want to lose sight of that.

“It will be progress, an African-American being president or we have a female as a standing vice president of the United States, second in command of the most powerful country in the world,” Stroman said.

Toliver believes Barack Obama’s historic run for office has inspired more minorities to get out the vote this election.

The numbers are proving him right.

Voting on Kokomo’s northeast side was running far ahead of the normal turnout.

By 4 p.m. at Precinct 32, which votes at the Carver Community Center, 500 of the 900 registered voters had cast ballots. The normal turnout ranges between 300 and 340.

“It’s a lot heavier than normal,” said John Eklem, an inspector at the precinct for two decades. “There are more people involved in this election. The parties are getting people to the polls.

“I’m surprised at how much higher the turnout is than normal,” he continued. “A lot of new people are voting.”

Tatyana Snow, 21, was excited about casting her first ballot, although she could have already voted in three previous elections.

“I didn’t think about voting three years ago,” she said before entering the Carver Center on Tuesday. “I don’t agree with the president we have right now.”

Snow said she was voting for Obama because his morals are more realistic.

“I’ve been following the presidential campaign more than the others,” she said. “I’ve followed his campaign. He’s really different and has good ideas.”

The turnout at Precinct 34, which votes at Memorial Gym, was also higher than normal, according to inspector Tracey Buckle.

Of the 750 registered voters, 474 ballots had been cast by the middle of the afternoon, including 202 absentee ballots.

“It’s a lot more than normal,” she said. “There are a lot of first-time voters and some people who have not voted for a long time. It’s been steady.”

Buckle expected the turnout to be higher.

Voting in Precinct 38 at the Dunbar Building was described as normal by inspector Becky Wood. She said by 5 p.m., there had been 376 ballots cast.

“It pleases me,” she said of the turnout. “We saw a lot of people come back. This is a historic election, an important one to be a part of.”

It was also an election with few problems, Wood said.

“We anticipated a higher turnout,” said Bob Stephenson, chairman of the county Democrat Party. “There was a strong effort by the Obama campaign. Traditionally, that is our area. There was excitement, and we expected a strong turnout.”

Democratic contender for Howard County commissioner, Bob Hayes, said Obama inspired him as a politician. He said many blacks tend to run only for office in predominantly black districts.

“I think that whole paradigm will change,” he said.

While he doesn’t believe race should be a factor, he does see a minority holding the most powerful position in the world as a means to break racial barriers. He expects to see more minorities step forward in political races.

“I think African-American parents can truly say to their child, if Barack Obama gets in, ‘Yes, you can be president of the United States if you want to work hard.’”

Most importantly, it would be a statement to the world.

“To me, as an American, I would be very proud because it would show the world, ‘Look how far we’ve come.’ We’re viewed upon [by] many countries in a bad way. ‘Hey, look at America, we are tolerant. We are inclusive.’”

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