It is not often that both sides of Bermuda's political and racial divide unite in common thought and feeling. So chalk up one more victory for Barack Obama: he has got UBP and PLP, black, white and Portuguese speaking with one voice. From Dr. Ewart Brown, to Opposition leader Kim Swan, to former premier Dr. David Gibbons, it is difficult to find anyone who doesn't agree: President Obama's victory marks a vital turning point in world history. As celebrations begin in earnest today, here's what some of the island's most prominent figures believe an Obama presidency means for Bermuda and the world.

• Premier Dr. Ewart Brown: "For Bermudians, for people all over the world, Obama's victory stretches the possibilities. This is the kind of history that changes lives of people, unseen. Some young man that thought yesterday he had all kinds of limitations placed upon him may think today that the sky is the limit. This has surprised and delighted all of us; especially those of us who have lived in the U.S. I didn't believe I'd see this in my lifetime; and I'm pretty optimistic. That's why I believe Obama's election represents a form of divine intervention: here's a man most of us hadn't heard of five years ago, and now he's president of the United States. He is someone that the world desperately needed. Just the fact that he says people should talk before they fight: that is soothing in a world where it has often been the reverse."

• Leader of the Opposition, Kim Swan: "Our world is riven by war, terrorism, financial crisis, rising costs and the divides between the have and the have-nots. It has become less stable, more volatile, more divided and more frightening. In the midst of the turmoil, Barack Obama is giving people the hope that a brighter day will come... Obama's message is about inclusiveness and togetherness; it's about rising above the muck and mire of divisive politics. This is something I feel all Bermudians in our heart of hearts want for our own island, and so the challenge for us is to embrace that spirit and rise above the politics that divides our people. It is no mere coincidence that Mr. Obama's genealogical origins come from both sides of the racial divide in America - a man not afraid to celebrate his black and white lineage. And in this he is showing that we are connected and that we can move forward together. He is saying: 'Yes we can, we can overcome the barriers that divide us!'

• PLP senator Walter Roban: "As a person of colour, I have a certain emotional attachment to this great achievement of Barack Obama. But something even greater is going on here, for everyone, white and black. There is a tendency to believe, or we have been made to believe, that in order to get on you need the right name, or the right connections, or the right amount of money. Obama has gone beyond patronage and privilege and exclusivity and has won on the merits of his intelligence and ability and achievements. It is the final nail in the coffin of the argument that only certain people can get to the top; and that is the most wonderful message for those of us who are aspiring to do something different."

• Former premier Sir David Gibbons: "I have been very impressed; I think he's a highly intelligent, highly educated individual and his victory is a breath of fresh air. He is certainly the right choice for America and for the rest of the world. That said, I don't think anyone outside America should expect too much just yet. To begin with, and perhaps for years, he will have to concentrate all of his energies within the U.S. They have a very serious economic problem over there and it is not going to be solved overnight."

• Radio personality and PLP senator Thaao Dill: "Obama talks a lot about the audacity of hope, but this victory, for me, validates that hope. It shows us that hope can be a useful tool for change and for a better future. Since September 11, America has become increasingly isolationist, increasingly xenophobic; pulling the shutters down and staring grimly out, wondering who that guy with the beard is. It's extremely refreshing to see that the American people are tired of being afraid, tired of being angry and scared. That's what this presidency means. Maybe I'm hopelessly idealist, but I can feel that message reverberate in my chest, and I'm sure the rest of the world feels it too."

• Dr. Kim Dismont Robinson, a scholar of literature and cultural studies, said: "President Obama and his supporters have managed to collectively shift the axis of history - something that was a moral imperative if we in the Americas are to ever fully reconcile our difficult past.  I never, ever believed this would happen in my lifetime, and my heart is full."