The capital of black America is bursting with pride as the Democratic Party prepares to make history and put forward its first black nominee for president of the United States. In Harlem, where avenues are named for historic black figures – Adam Clayton Powell, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. – residents can see a day when street signs will be hung for Barack Obama.
“When I go to bars in the neighborhood, he’s on TV and people are cheering,” said Chad Brown, 25, a paralegal from East Harlem. “In the previous election, I didn’t see that around here.”
Nowhere in America, except perhaps in Obama’s political base on the south side of Chicago, are blacks more excited about the prospect of an Obama presidency.
Here, an Obama T-shirt is as much a part of the wardrobe as a belt or a pair of socks. And no casual conversation is complete without a philosophical discourse on the state of black politics.
“There’s quite a bit of excitement,” said Michael Washington, a co-founder of the political group Harlem4Obama. “I think you’ll see a lot more activity like fund raising and voter registration after the convention.”
Washington’s group is sponsoring a convention watch party Thursday night, when Obama accepts the nomination.
The party, at the Tribal Spears Gallery Cafe on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, is one of several events in the community celebrating Obama’s moment at the Democratic convention.
Obama mania has reached other parts of the city as well. In Brooklyn, parish- ioners at the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church on Atlantic Avenue are celebrating more than Obama’s rise. Their pastor’s daughter, Leah Daughtry, is the CEO of the convention.
“My daughter had to remain neutral, so I honored her neutrality and remained neutral throughout the primary,” said the Rev. Herbert Daughtry.
“But once that was over, black leaders really marshaled support for Obama. What Obama has done is shatter the ceiling into a thousand pieces. He raises the hope and aspirations of every young black person. It wouldn’t surprise me if next time around there isn’t just one black person in the race, but who knows how many.”
That would suit Jack Gibbell just fine.
Gibbell, 40, who was selling $15 Obama T-shirts along West 125th Street, said the moment is inspirational.
“We don’t see this as how far we’ve come,” Gibbell said. “We see this as how far we can go.”
By REBECCA ROSENBERG and LEONARD GREENE for the www.nypost.com