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America just spent 8 years with a black president. For many African Americans, it meant one big thing: freedom to ‘dream’

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Eight years ago, Andrew Jackson II saw himself on the cusp of possibility in a world of firsts.

He boarded a bus that January with dozens of family members and friends, headed to the National Mall to watch the nation’s first black president — the first person he had ever voted for — make history.

As he watched the jumbo screens show Barack Obama sworn in on that sub-freezing day, his body was swept with warmth.

“I can take a chance to breathe,” he remembers thinking. “Obama will put us on the right course.”

He was 27 and living on his own after graduating from Louisiana State University. By day, he worked at a flooring warehouse, but his spare time was spent auditioning for musicals in Houston’s burgeoning arts scene. He saw a future breaking his own barriers as a singer in Atlanta or an actor in Hollywood.

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