Obama's win 'means a lot,' says 105-year-old local man

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By Jesef Williams

Nathaniel Truesdale remembers not being allowed inside certain establishments simply because of the color of his skin.

The 105-year-old Lancaster County man said he's been called the "N-word" more times than he can count. For a long time, he felt like a second-class citizen.

While conditions for blacks have improved considerably during his lifetime, Truesdale never thought he'd see the day when a black person was elected president.

He only wishes his peers were still alive to witness Barack Obama's historic win Tuesday, as he became the first black person ever elected president of the United States.

"It means a lot to me," Truesdale said as he sat on the porch of his home in the Elgin community. "It means a lot to black folks."

Truesdale sits back in his chair and chats with his great-grandchildren about the differences from when he was "coming up" and today.

Truesdale, who made a living as a farmer, was in his 60s before he was allowed to vote.

He was eager about voting in this election.

Truesdale, who's still in good health, drove himself to his voting precinct.

"It felt good," Truesdale said about voting for Obama.

Truesdale and his great-grandson, Rashad Cunningham, both think Obama will be a good president.

Cunningham, 29, said Obama's win is inspiring. He recalls teachers always saying, "You can be anything you want to be in life."

Although he was repeatedly told that, Cunningham said didn't believe it was true.

Until now.

"It's to the point now when they say that, it means something," Cunningham said. "The sky is the limit."

Cunningham asked his great-grandfather about trying to see Obama in person, perhaps at his inauguration in Washington, D.C.

Truesdale grinned as he thought about the idea.

"I'll try to go, if I can get there," Truesdale said. "I would sure like to see him."

And if he could meet Obama, he said he'd have a few words of encouragement for him.

"I'd wish him good luck," he said.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152