February 5th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
10 years ago

An historic day at an historic location

NEW YORK (CNN) - Voters at a Harlem elementary school named after trailblazing black Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. say they face an agonizing decision whether to vote for another African-American trailblazer.

“It’s a tough choice,” declared Charles Townsend, a 50-year-old professor at City College. “It’s an embarrassment to have to choose between the two.”

“I love Hillary Clinton,” said 75-year-old Georgia Brown after she pulled the level for Obama. “She’s already been President,” cracked Brown. “Time for change.”

Consider: Harlem is normally Clinton Country. Voters here twice elected Hillary Clinton to the Senate by overwhelming margins. Former President Bill Clinton remains hugely popular; his Harlem office is only a mile away from the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. School. And, Harlem’s Democratic political establishment led by Rep. Charles Rangel (who defeated Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1970) is backing Hillary Clinton.

But Barack Obama has huge appeal here.

“Hillary has better ideas. I love Bill Clinton,” said Margret Segura. Even so, the retired Harlem resident said she voted for Obama.

Obama’s call for change resonates with some voters here, young and old. Charles McKnight, 82, says he voted for Obama because “I’m tired of the system. I’m looking for something new.”

The decision was so difficult for some Harlem residents that they made up their minds in the voting booth.

“I struggled,” conceded Michael Jones, a hospital employee, before he voted for Hillary Clinton.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of New York State voters, conducted January 30-February 3 had Clinton leading Obama 53 percent to 39 percent, a narrowing of her advantage.

Sen. Clinton is widely expected to win her state. But under Democratic primary rules, which split delegates according to percentage of votes, Barack Obama is likely to pick up a share of the state’s 281 delegates, in Clinton strongholds like Harlem.

- CNN's Alan Chernoff

soundoff (152 Responses)

    GO HILLARY GO!!!!!

    February 5, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. z,new york, ny

    yay for those voters mentioned who went for obama

    February 5, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. WMW

    obama and farrahkan ticket looks good for the dems.

    February 5, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Mark Cross Junction VA

    Torn between trailblazing or the color of skin? Hmmm. What two great reasons to vote. What ever happened to voting for the best candidate. I guess logic doesn't exist in Harlem N.Y. What a doomed outcome our Country faces.

    February 5, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. dsw

    WMW- in case you didn't notice the country is ready to move beyond racism, maybe if you took your head out of the sand you would notice.

    Obama 08!

    February 5, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Lynne

    This goes to show that even though many black democrats may believe that Hillary is more qualified and would do a better job, they feel as though this is a historic opportunity to vote for a viable black candidate. For the first time they feel as if they have the freedom to do so because even if he loses, they'll still have Hillary. The problem with this thinking is that it prolongs the primary battle through March when the delegate-rich states of Texas and Ohio vote, where as republicans will already be coalescing around their nominee.

    February 5, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Lynn in St. Louis

    Hillary is the most qualified democrat running for President. Obama is a motivator, but what is behind his speeches? The devil is in the details and Hillary is great with details.

    However, let us not forget that for the democrats to defeat the Republicans, ALL democrats should get behind the democratic nominee for President. This not voting for democrats because you don't like the nominee is pure BS and a good way to be forced to live through some more republicans. We're now on the verge of a recession, do we need to be headed for a depression before a democrat bails us out?

    February 5, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Karen

    Oh Har, Har, Har CNN. Two enthusiastically vote for Obama, one grudgingly for Clinton.

    February 5, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Tobee

    The risk is high to choose a candidate with less experience but appealing against a candidate who has huge experience and command. I like a asian, african, hispanic, euro-american to be president but not now! America is quite exhausted at this point not to have a experienced and well-allied president like HILLARY CLINTON to mend it from the problems it has been placed into.

    February 5, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Teree

    GO OBAMA GO!!!!!

    "She's already been president...time for a change" The best quote ever!!!

    February 5, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. z,new york, ny

    no not obama/farrahkan

    seriously, if obama is nominated, he should pick a woman... my suggestions are Gov Sibelius, or Naplitano (just to mess with McCain in Arizona)

    or he could be a latina for a really diverse ticket, but i can't think of anyone popular... jennifer lopez for vp anyone? lol

    February 5, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Dawn

    Why vote for Obama if "Hillary has better ideas and you love her" ????

    February 5, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Shannon

    GO HUCKABEE! Trust in the LORD and ANYTHING is possible. In GOD we TRUST.

    February 5, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Can I EVER get posted?!

    Wow. What an enlightening relevant article. Gee Hillary has the best ideas, but the media keeps telling me Obama Obama. No Obama bias here (wink wink). I think that I'm moving to Huffington Post.....

    February 5, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Sharon

    All I hear is the word change thrown around, but I've heard nothing about what that change consists of.....at least Hillary has plans that she has proposed not just a slogan...I will vote for Hillary.

    February 5, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Michael

    Ms. Brown; Hillary was never the president and it is disturbing that that is the only reason you voted for Obama.

    Another comment stated in the article states; "Obama had hugh appeal in the area" and that Hillary "had better ideas", but she votes for Obama.

    What are you doing people?

    Stop the idiotic voting based on his rock star image. This is not American Idol!

    This vote should be taken seriously and not decided on by such ignorant reasons.

    We had it good when Bill Clinton was the President, but it is not fair to stop Senator Clinton, because her husband was president.

    February 5, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. Casey

    CNN and the Media Machine against Clinton. They cast 1.6 million to the Bush campaign, and show Blacks voting against Clinton. Dispicable!

    February 5, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Charlotte

    How many Obama supporters have been able to ask him a question? He holds RALLYS, not town hall meetings. He has a pulpit to inspire from. He excites from prepared speeches. Has he held a single question and answer event? I'm not talking about debates, I'm talking a group of average people being able to ask him anything? Almost ever event held by Hillary is a question and answer event. When he allows average people to question him, I might be able to support him. Take away the hype and what is left? Anyone who believes he is the answer to their prayers, I would say that depends on what your praying for? If it is gender/race you are blinded by bigotry. We had Rallys in high school to get the students hyped up for the game. That is all I've seen, if someone knows of one event that was not a Rally, please tell me when that happened. Hillary puts herself on the line time and time again, and is asked tough questions. Hillary will be a President who can talk and listen to anybody, anytime, about any topic.

    February 5, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Zee

    Unfortunately basing a vote on Color is holding more weight in Harlem, then using common sense. Hillary far outweighs Obama. Really where did this guy come from, Illinois, Africa, Indonesia, Hawaii???? and what does he really believe in and stand for. I heard his speeches and seen him easily flustered when things aren't going his way, very reminiscent of what we have in office at this time. At lease we all know Hillary can take a licking and keep on ticking. I am a Black Democrat voting for Hillary today and the color of my skin will have nothing to do with it!

    February 5, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. jackie

    I have had enough of the Clinton's. There's no way Hillary would rule on her own. Time for a fresh start for the Dem's. Going for intelligence when I vote for Obama.

    February 5, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. william

    Obviously, the Obama voters don't really know why they are voting for him. This article shows me by the empty reason for voting for him.

    "Hillary has better ideas" than Obama; but then you vote for Hillary?

    This makes no sense.

    Also, how quickly some of the people of Harlem forget what the administration of Bill Clinton did for them.

    February 5, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. dsw

    A vote for Hillary is a vote for McCain, she won't win the general election, she has too much baggage. Obama is the only chance for a democratic president. I also have to note how she never mentioned the word 'change'- niether did Romney or any of the other candidates (besides Edwards) until they saw what an impact Obama was having and how he had tapped into something powerful.

    February 5, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Chevy

    A Texan I respect You. Obama certainly may not have as much expireince as Clinton but, isnt the duty of a leader to motivate his or her people? The democrats must know that if they select Clinton as the Nominee they will LOSE the white house. No true Obama supporter will vote for her in November. So this is to the democratic party, "If you want to stop the despicable republicans, (who Senator Obama, has befriended) from getting into the Oval Office again, Obama is your nominee. Obama wil inspire and lift America back to the its former Glory. If you want to have the White house, Vote Obama.

    February 5, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. Linda LA

    Truman said JFK did not have enough experience. FACT!

    Obama '08

    February 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Tara

    Go Hillary!!

    February 5, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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