BURGAW – It was 108 years in the making, but Friday, Carrie Walker cast a vote for the first black presidential candidate.
Carrie Etta Herring Walker, who turned 108 at the end of September, was cheered on by family members and strangers alike Friday as she cast her vote in the historic election, one she says she never thought she would see.
Walker can remember a time when women were not allowed to vote and when segregation kept black and white people separate. She has voted in every election since she legally could, decades ago.
“I like to vote,” Walker said. “There was no voting before.”
But despite witnessing the women’s suffrage movement and the end of segregation, Walker did not think she would get the chance to vote for the nation’s first black candidate.
“I’m voting for (Sen. Barack) Obama (D – IL) because I think he’s a good man,” Walker said.
Jerritt Boney, Walker’s caregiver, added that the day before, she and Walker had read the paper and talked about the candidate.
The day was a special one for Walker and the daughters and granddaughters who surrounded her.
Walker, who currently lives just west of Burgaw, has lived in Pender County all her life. As a child, she attended the one-room Love Grove School in the same area. She is considered the oldest taxpayer in Pender County.
“What have I seen? I couldn’t even begin to tell you,” Walker said of her time in the area. She described not being able to vote, and she described making cornbread during the Great Depression because her family did not have enough money for the ingredients to make biscuits.
“I have biscuits today,” she said. “Things are better today then they were back then.”
Her family members agreed Friday as they helped her into the building.
“I consider it an honor to be with my great-aunt on this day,” said Leon Bellamy. Other voters waiting for their chance to cast a ballot agreed, with many coming up to Walker before and after she voted to shake her hand or give her a hug and comment.
“Now, this is her time,” Corine Bellamy, Leon Bellamy’s wife, said. “This is history for everyone. Everyone should come out and vote.”
“If Miss Carrie can come out and vote, everyone can come out and vote,” Boney added.