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It’s been more than three months since the presidential election, but Gonze Lee Twitty is still wearing Barack Obama pins and buttons on his clothing.
For the 90-year-old Lancaster County native, Obama has been more than a politician. He’s a symbol of hope and progress, and a man Twitty is proud to call his president.
Obama’s ascension is the latest chapter in the quest for equality, he said.
Twitty, who’s been a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for most of his life, said he was initially attracted to Obama partly because of how he could relate to people from all walks of life.
When the former Illinois senator began picking up numerous endorsements from political heavy-hitters during his presidential campaign, Twitty said he believed Obama had what was needed to win.
And when Obama was declared the winner, Twitty called it one of the proudest moments of his life.
“This is one of the things I love to talk about,” he said. “I was so happy that it happened.”
Twitty, who attended the inauguration last month in Washington, D.C., said Obama has the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.
The president also reminds Twitty of President Franklin Roosevelt, whose New Deal legislation from the 1930s he fondly remembers.
At that time, Twitty worked in agriculture and was only able to make 6 cents for every pound of cotton picked. Under the New Deal, that amount went up to 40 cents.
Twitty hopes to see more jobs created under Obama and wages increase as they did back then.
“This won’t be a fix overnight, but we must work as a people,” Twitty said about the challenges Obama faces. “He’s going to be another Roosevelt.”
Twitty believes Obama has already had a positive impact on race relations in the country.
Since the election, he said he’s noticed blacks and whites talking to each more respectfully.
Twitty also believes that the president serves as a motivation for all people, letting them know that no dream is to big.
“That man has a way of talking that could wrap you up,” Twitty said. “He’s showing us that you can be what you want to be provided you put your best foot front.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at email@example.com or at (803) 283-1152