It poured with rain at Barack Obama’s second last rally, in Charlotte, North Carolina, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the majority African American crowd who came to see the man who could make history today as America’s first black president.

They sang along to Kanye West’s hip hop ballad, Touch The Sky . They boogied to Motown tunes. The adoration on their faces as Senator Obama took the stage was palpable.

"It’s a monumental point in history and I really want to be a part of it. It really knocks down so many barriers that this country has had," said Paris Edwards, a mental health caseworker.

"If it does come to pass that that Barack becomes president, then it will open other countries’ eyes that we are trying to make progress as a nation. I think it’s important to the country as a whole, not just to African Americans."

Constance Henderson, a retiree, had brought her eight-year-old granddaughter, Lauren, to see Senator Obama. "It’s something very special," she said.

"People are standing in line for hours just to vote. We have had so much apathy in this country with voting that at least the base is really energised this year to cast their votes, to be involved and to have a voice."

North Carolina, with a 25 per cent black population, has not voted Democrat since Jimmy Carter. But 2008 may turn the tide, mainly due to the huge turnout of African Americans who have registered in unprecedented numbers.

The polls show the race is tight in North Carolina but among the 2.6 million who voted early, about a third are African American. About 90 to 95 per cent of African Americans vote Democrat.

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