"It will be an historical moment not only in the history of African-Americans and the country as a whole, but also in the history of the world as a black man becomes the leader of the free world, a world a little freer still with his election," Napier said.
"I will be a very proud black man, but even more, a very proud American seeing him take the oath of office."
Napier said when he sees the inauguration he likely will be thinking back to 1963 when another prominent black man made history in the nation's capital.
"Obama will be standing only a few blocks from where, some 45 to 46 years earlier, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his 'I Have a Dream' speech," he said. "Barack Obama will be making Dr. King's dream come true.
"I never thought I'd ever see this happen in my lifetime, but Dr. King gave us hope and promise that it would."
Napier, 52, spent his childhood in a segregated Danville but, as a teenager, was able to witness the elimination of at least some major racial barriers with the Voting Rights Act and desegregation of public accommodations and schools. He began his elementary education in the early 1960s at the all-black Bate School and completed it in 1974 when he graduated from the fully integrated Danville High School.
"Progress has been made since I was a child and barriers have been removed, but there is more work that needs to be done," he said. "I think that President Obama can serve as the inspiration for getting the job done."
Set high goals and work hard
Napier said Obama's election will serve as proof to young people of all races and backgrounds that "if you set high goals and work hard to reach them, you can be anything and do anything."
Based on about a dozen other interviews Friday, other black people in Danville - old, middle-aged and young - share Napier's enthusiasm over Obama's election.
Norman Bartleson, a retired letter carrier and longtime president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said Obama's election was like a birthday present for him.
"I turned 72 on Thursday, two days after the election, and I never thought I'd see the day that a black man would become president," he said.
"But I saw it happen on Tuesday, and it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened in my life. Seeing a lot of whites and Hispanics join blacks to elect the first non-white president was a glorious day."
Bartleson said Obama's election is particularly sweet for him and others who "fought for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s."
"When Obama occupies the White House in January, it will be a symbol of the civil rights struggle paying off and it will be a symbol of a big part of the dream of the leader of that struggle, Dr. King, finally becoming a reality 46 years after he revealed it to us," he said.
Bartleson said he hopes Obama can take King's torch and lead not just blacks but all Americans to conquer a new frontier and realize the rest of King's dream - a racially unified country.
"Dr. King worked to break down barriers for blacks and give us the same rights and opportunities as whites," he said. "Now Obama can pursue completing the dream by creating a truly united, color-blind society.
"If everyone of every race and background can just join together and support him as president - not as a black president but as president of all of us - he can unite us in a common front and the dream truly will come true."
Perryville Mayor Ann Sleet, who is in her 70s, said she also is excited about Obama's election.
"I am not only delighted that the country has elected its first African-American president but that it chose a very smart young man with strong leadership ability who I really think will strive to bring this country together - all of its races and nationalities - into one unified nation," she said.
Representing everyone, not one race