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INFINITE HOPE

“I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.” An Obama campaigner reflects on America’s first black president leaving office

By Jacob Templin

Chet Whye was not politically active in Harlem until Barack Obama ran for president in 2008. Whye ran Harlem4Obama, a bustling campaign headquarters, built out of an abandoned store front in Central Harlem. Within a few months, Whye and his team had registered thousands of new voters, and in the final days of the campaign, they were sending busloads of volunteers to Pennsylvania and Ohio. On election night, the office became a gathering spot. It erupted in joy the moment it was announced that America had elected its first black president.

Eight years later, in the wake of a Donald Trump presidency, Whye looks back on Obama’s legacy with conflicting feelings. In the video above, he reflects on the ways Obama did and didn’t live up to the promises of his campaign, and how he changed the country in ways that can’t be undone.