As I watched Barack Obama come to be a presidential candidate in 2008, I couldn’t imagine from where he came so quickly to acquire such prominence.

So I read books about him, his family and his education: “Dreams of My Father,” “A Singular Woman” (about his mother), “The Audacity to Hope,” “The Audacity to Win” and “Barack Obama — The Story.”

Through the last four years, I have come to understand why he won. I explain that theory through an incident more than 40 years ago, when I was teaching in a poor inner-city school.

The first computer had just been installed and each child was given his own number to open the screen. As the first child sat down and entered his number, the screen flickered to light and a mechanical voice called out, “Welcome, Larry!” In disbelief and joy, Larry loudly exclaimed with delight, “It knows me!”

As I have come to know our president, I think a lot of Americans blessed with many privileges in life, along with many disenfranchised, poor, discouraged, ill, elderly, disabled and even unemployed, have come to feel, “He knows me!” And they voted.

Dorothy Cleaver


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