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York Voter, Who Supported Obama, Is In Disbelief About 2016's Election


And now, let's revisit a voter in York, Pa. In 2008, we gathered more than a dozen people in a hotel and had dinner together. We talked about race during that year when Barack Obama became the first black president. We talked for hours and got to know each other.


MARGIE ORR: Can I - can I - this is Margie. And I don't see your nametag.

INSKEEP: That was Margie Orr, who's black. She described how, as a young person, her family had moved into an all-white neighborhood.


ORR: We weren't wanted there, of course, and the whites did everything they could to intimidate us, to get us to move. But my parents were staunch-hearted people. We weren't going to budge.

INSKEEP: That memory was on her mind as she voted for Barack Obama in 2008. After Obama's victory, we met our group again.


ORR: When it flashed on the screen that he had indeed won, I mean, the joy, the jubilation just made you feel like there's nothing wrong with the United States.

INSKEEP: So that was Margie Orr after the 2008 election. This is Margie Orr after the 2016 election.

ORR: I'm still in disbelief. I'm in total disbelief - total disbelief.

INSKEEP: Margie Orr is 1 of 4 York, Pa., voters we're visiting again. All their roles have reversed. Those who were happy then are not now. To be honest, Margie Orr was never entirely satisfied during Obama's years.

ORR: Obama has had a rough time of it with the other party coming into office. I mean, he's - he's tried his best. With him being who he is, I think he's been an excellent president, a very good, excellent role model.

INSKEEP: You said you supported him in part because he was African-American. Do you think he was opposed, at least in part, also because he was black?

ORR: Yes, most definitely. The country wasn't prepared to have a black president. Mindboggling to me because, I mean, he's half of everybody.

INSKEEP: You raise an interesting point - that he had a white mother, that he felt that he had close touch with Scots-Irish ancestors as well as with African ancestors.

ORR: Right, right. And there's the fact that his white grandparents even raised him, but not negating the fact, though, he's still black. And there lies the problem. There lied the problem.

INSKEEP: Margie Orr campaigned for Hillary Clinton this time around. Now that her candidate has lost, she looks at the future with grim resignation.

ORR: We as black people, we know how to survive. Good or bad, you know, I'll live on. If there's ways that I can help, I'm going to continue to do whatever I can for our children.

INSKEEP: Here's what she means by our children - when we first met eight years ago, Margie Orr was working as a receptionist. Today, she's retired from that job but has gone on to something new. She was elected to the York, Pa., school board and is now its president, where she sees her job as...

ORR: Protecting all of my children, and I refer to them as my children because they are.

INSKEEP: It's a majority-minority student body - nearly all black and Latino kids. Whatever the results of this year's election, the country continues to change. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.