Woman Born in 1918 Reacts to Clinton Breaking Glass Ceiling

Lots of people are still talking about a big moment from the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, when America’s first black president and first female nominee from a major party shared the stage for a passing of the baton.

NBC 5 sat down with one woman at her Arlington retirement home who knows just how historic the moment was.

Adelene James is black and was born in 1918, before women had the right to vote. She’s seen some big steps in her life.

“When I was growing up it was very segregated, everything was white or black,” said James.

Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, she met Bill Clinton years ago.

“When I was teaching, he used to come to the school to talk to the kids,” said James.

She would see Hillary Clinton around too, but never saw it coming that one day she would be a nominee for president.

“Oh, I never conceived, in fact, I never conceived of a black man as president, you know that? So to get a woman is really a change in times.”

But it’s a change James said she could “absorb.” Educated at Columbia University, she learned long ago not to limit herself.

“I knew as much as a person who finished the course in library science as a person who was white or black,” said James. “Then you begin you’re on an equal basis with them, so it doesn’t matter what color they are. You’re on a basis with them.”

James spent decades as a school librarian and still loves visiting with kids at her nursing home.

Thursday afternoon, she heard an employee’s 7-year-old daughter say: “I would love to be a president.”

James was struck by how different that little girl’s world will be.

“That’s what struck me, how the differences have progressed, not gone back,” said James. “See they progressed. See from school, to politics and now to the presidency? Yeah. That’s progress.”

Born before women could vote, it may seem like a miracle. But James sees lots of those these days.

“If you have both hands to use isn’t that a miracle? You can walk, that’s a miracle,” said James, and she’s still heading to the next step.

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