Deep down, I knew it would happen. I spent the day excited, optimistic, and a little anxious. And then, as my band and I watched the results come in, President Obama’s victory was announced and the champagne flowed. Tears flowed too, of happiness, relief, ecstasy, pride. I was immensely proud to be American. Proud that Americans had united in a way I had never experienced. We had come together after 9/11, of course, but bonding optimistically over our future was a lot better than doing so over grief and shock. On Nov. 4, Americans reached out, grabbed each others’ hands and became stronger. Instead of grieving hugs, we exchanged jubilant high fives. Our country voted for change. Big change. We voted for a major cultural shift that would realign our country with the times we lived in—to fundamentally transform our approach to health care, education, and international relations. We had dealt a massive blow to cynicism and created a future that looked brighter than our past. Earlier limits on the dreams of American kids were blown away. Older black men and women who lived through decades of the struggle for civil rights saw a previously unimaginable dream come true. This time we were all hopeful, knowing that America would never be the same; it would be better. The era of fear was over and the era of hope had begun.