Four years ago I spent one of the most wonderful days of my life wandering the streets of the South Side feeling the energy and anticipation of the possibility that the people of the United States would elect the first African-American President. Election day this year was a very different feeling.

In a place that’s used to tough times the past four years have been unusually challenging. Increased levels of poverty, structural violence, childhood poverty and a general feeling of being left behind has pervaded this time of the Great Recession. It hasn’t helped that President Obama has barely uttered the word ‘poverty’ nor made any trips to the embattled neighborhoods of the South Side where he made his name when he was a community organizer as a young man. Hope and Change are powerful words. 

Last Tuesday we made history again. On the South Side I encountered a far more tempered excitement. 

It was almost just another day in the neighborhood, but the community knew the stakes and dutifully showed up to the polls to vote for Barack Hussein Obama. He won, but Room 43, an upscale club on Chicago’s South Side was clearing out long before Barack came onstage to give his speech. The next day was a work day and people have lives to lead. 

We will wait to see what promise Barack’s second term brings for the communities of the South Side.

This story is part of Jon’s long-term project about the South Side.

Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.
Photographs from election day on Chicago's South and West Sides.