If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place
where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our
founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our
democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches
in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours
and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because
they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could
be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and
Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight,
disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world
that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we
are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many
to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put
their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope
of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on
this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long
and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for
the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of
us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service
rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and
Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working
with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from
his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets
of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice
President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of
my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and
the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha
and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy
that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with
us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made
me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is
beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod,
and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics –
you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve
sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to –
it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start
with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in
the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and
the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings
they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this
cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of
their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for
jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young
people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the
doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who
volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries
later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has
not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t
do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task
that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the
challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime –
two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking
up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their
lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after
their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or
pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new
energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and
threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get
there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more
hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as
a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree
with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that
government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with
you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when
we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking
this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and
twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by
calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on
this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is
only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we
go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and
responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and
look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if
this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a
thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we
rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and
pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let
us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the
banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on
the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity.
Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a
great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and
determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As
Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not
enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break
our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet
to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need
your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from
parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the
forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our
destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To
those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who
seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have
wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved
once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the
might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring
power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our
union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope
for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for
generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast
her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood
in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing
– Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no
cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t
vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color
of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in
America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the
times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with
that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed,
she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot.
Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land,
she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new
sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she
was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was
saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a
bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We
Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was
connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this
election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because
after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of
hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much
more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should
live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live
as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress
will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our
time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for
our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to
reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that
out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we
are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t,
we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United
States of America.

Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come