CHICAGO-The crowd outside Hyde Park's Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School-people in line waiting to vote, journalists and camera crews from around the world, and neighborhood onlookers-cheered and snapped pictures as Senator Barack Obama drove by in a motorcade of black Secret Service SUVs. Accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, the Democratic presidential candidate walked in the side entrance to vote in his neighborhood polling site.
"This is fantastic," says Erika Dudley, an African-American resident of Hyde Park whose 7-year-old son attends school with Sasha Obama. "My son told me that if Obama wins maybe he can be president one day too."
Obama has brought international attention to Hyde Park, a stately and diverse neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Greenwood Avenue, where he lives, is lined with metal barricades, with police officers standing guard on the street to block access. The neighbors, however, don't seem to mind.
"We're not bothered by not being able to walk down this block even though we live in the area," says Dorothy Jenkins, who says she has supported the Democratic presidential candidate since he first ran for state Senate. "It's just so awesome for the kids to know that the next president is Black man, and he lives in their neighborhood."