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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Birmingham Perspective on a Historic Election

When folks at the American News Project (ANP) decided to chronicle election day 2008, Birmingham seemed a natural destination.

Polls were showing that the country was poised to elect its first African-American president. And perhaps no U.S. city is more associated with the struggle for civil rights than Birmingham. In fact, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a prime stop for anyone wanting to fully understand the struggle for equal opportunity in this country.

ANP launched in May 2008 and is devoted to producing online video journalism. The project is funded by the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and works in conjunction with a number of news organizations, including McClatchy Newspapers. You can check out the people behind ANP here.

ANP dispatched a reporter/photographer team to Birmingham to capture the mood of the city heading into election day--and on into election night. Reporting teams also chronicled activities in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Palm Beach, Florida.

You can check out a video report on election day in Birmingham here. It is produced by Garland McLaurin.

Tony Pugh, a Washington-based reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, contributes two compelling pieces. His pre-election piece, "In Birmingham, Obama's Run is More Than Just Politics," captures the city's mood against the backdrop of its tortured history on race relations.

In his election-night piece, "Civil Rights Battleground Celebrates Obama's Victory," Pugh noted that some residents were moved to tears of joy by the election of the nation's first black president. He spoke to others who expressed a sense of fear, feeling that America is turning to an unknown and untested leader at a time of crisis.

In the video, Pugh poignantly calls Obama's election the "prize-winning fruit" of a civil rights struggle that has its roots deeply planted in Birmingham.

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