CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN)– “I talked to my grandmother as I was on my way here," said Pamela Conley, 27.
There was something in her voice as she said this– something that sounded like pride.
“My grandmother is 81 years old," she said. “She lives in St. Louis. She told me she stood in line for almost three hours today so that she could vote.
“She told me that she thought she would never live to see this day. She remembers when everywhere she went, there were public restrooms that were labeled ‘White' and ‘Colored.’ ”
Pamela Conley said she has come to Grant Park tonight not just for herself, but for her grandmother, whose name is May Conley.
“I’m scared about what may happen tonight," she said. “I have trouble believing that Barack Obama will really win. It doesn’t seem real.”
But there was no way she was going to be anywhere this evening other than this park. She has no tickets; neither does her friend, James Lewis, 28, who was waiting with her to enter the portion of the park where people without tickets will be permitted to gather.
They won’t see Obama; they know that.
It doesn’t matter to them.
“This is history on so many levels,” Lewis said. “I’m not talking about just if he wins. But for a person like me to say that I have just voted for an African-American to be president of the United States. . . .”
His voice trailed off.
Does he believe that, by the end of tonight, Obama will be the next president?
“I won’t believe it even if he does win,” Lewis said. “I won’t believe he’s president until he is actually inaugurated.”
What does he mean by that?
“Just what it sounds like,” he said. “I worry. I hope he is elected tonight, but I won’t believe he is president until the moment I see him sworn in.”