Sen. Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech in Chicago, Ill.

CQ Transcripts Wire
Wednesday, November 5, 2008; 12:02 AM

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 America.

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 hope.

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 people:

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