CONWAY — The red-brick Bethel AME Church on the corner of Racepath Avenue was built in 1866, only a few years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves that attended it.
On Tuesday, the congregants gathered around two small televisions in the fellowship hall witnessed the barely believable: The country built on the backs of their ancestors had just elected as president a man who shared their skin color.
"I have waited for this," said Willie Ann Smalls, who spent the day in the church kitchen cooking meals for poll workers. She broke into a wide smile as she began a chant she would repeat through the night, a phrase President-elect Barack Obama coined in South Carolina: "Fired up, ready to go!"
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