CHARLOTTE, North Carolina-It was historic.
McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” played over the sound system at the Excelsior Club, which has been a gathering place since 1944.
Owner James Ferguson wore his Yes We Can shirt as he made the announcement that Barack Obama won Ohio and everyone in the smoky club cheered. By that time, the results were clear. Barack Obama would be president.
Ferguson congratulated incumbent Democratic Representative Mel Watt for his congressional win. Harvey Gantt, elected Charlotte’s first Black mayor 25 years ago, was also there to take a deserved tribute for paving the way for a Barack Obama.
“Help yourself to the fish and help yourself to the party,” he told the crowd, which was ready for the dance floor.
It’s been a long journey for Ferguson, a civil rights attorney who has made history with his life and career. When he was a student at N.C. Central
University in Durham, he used to visit the Excelsior. He always realized its importance as a place for African-Americans and the larger community to meet and communicate.
It was 1968, not that long ago, he remembered, when he was in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention representing a group of African- Americans trying to get representation in the North Carolina delegation.