President-elect Biden praises Black vote for historic win, firing of Donald Trump

Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., quickly filled with thousands of people after the announcement that Trump had lost the election. 
Photo by Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

By Barrington M. Salmon

After four years of feeling under siege from a racially hostile White House and after a week spent awaiting the results of a nail-biter election, supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden finally exhaled when it became clear that President Donald Trump was voted out of office.

Black America and the rest of the country learned shortly after noon on Nov. 7 that former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris would be America’s next president and vice president of the United States. Biden’s home state of Pennsylvania provided the final push that lifted the Biden-Harris ticket past the vaunted 270 electoral votes. Harris, a Howard University graduate, is the first woman and the first of Black and Asian descent to be elected vice president.

President-elect Biden was quick to give the Black vote the credit it deserved. During his acceptance speech, he acknowledged the importance of the Black vote, telling his audience that he wouldn’t have won the Democratic primary or the hard-fought contest without the overwhelming support of Black voters.

“To my campaign team, and all the volunteers, to all those who gave so much of themselves to make this moment possible, I owe you everything,” Biden said. “And to all those who supported us: I am proud of the campaign we built and ran. I am proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse in history. Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Progressives, moderates and conservatives. Young and old. Urban, suburban and rural. Gay, straight, transgender. White. Latino. Asian. Native American.”

He then added, “And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest — the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.”

A full-throated endorsement by Rep. Jim Clyburn just before the South Carolina primary brought the faltering Biden campaign back to life and 61 percent of Black South Carolinians checked Biden’s box. In the presidential contest, at least 89 percent of African Americans voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, according to the American Election Eve exit Poll by Latino Decisions. That same poll found that 56 percent of Whites voted for Trump, a number reconfirmed by CNN exit polls, which calculated the White vote for Trump at 57 percent.

Moments after the race was called, media and cable outlets showed scenes of spontaneous outbreaks of street dancing – accompanied by music, lusty singing, raucous cheers and honking horns – in cities as disparate as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco and Oakland. Black Biden supporters expressed immense relief and joy that an aroused public joined hands to usher out the jarring, abrasive, racist Trump regime.

After 1,459 days of the Trump Administration, with its pervasive and proven racism, support of racial hatred, pervasive lies, division and chaos, millions across the nation seemed to breath freely.

“I feel excitement. It’s a beautiful day,” Alexandra Jones, a third-generation Washington D.C., native, Howard University alumnus and educator said on the evening of Biden’s speech. “On Tuesday, I didn’t think Biden and Harris were going to win. But last night the calm came through, I thought it, felt it and finally claimed it. I feel relief. It’s amazing to see humanity triumph. A collective group of very different people, many of them outsiders, came together as one.”

It is a delicious irony that despite years of Democratic Party brass overlooking, barely tolerating and often neglecting the issues, needs and concerns of African-American voters, Black folks ended up being the decisive factor. Overwhelming Black support in the urban cities, other urban areas and the suburbs of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia translated into significant caches of votes that propelled the Biden-Harris ticket to victory.

It came after a fractious campaign, a major struggle and a long, arduous vote count. More than 101 million Americans cast ballots in early voting and an estimated 41 million more voted on Election Day. Exit polls indicate that Biden and Harris got the support of the majority of Millennial and Gen X voters, as well as new and returning voters. They also captured the majority of the Latinx, Native American and Asian and Pacific Islander vote. But the African American vote – organized and mobilized by primarily Black female organizers, workers and strategists for years before 2020 – laid the groundwork for the Democratic Party to blunt the 48 percent of the electorate who voted for President Donald Trump.

African-Americans voted in record-breaking numbers despite a concerted effort of widespread voter suppression and voter manipulation by the Trump administration and the Republican Party. Trump spent much of the election campaign trying to delegitimize the electoral process; claimed that he would only lose if the election was stolen; and interrupted the operations of the U.S. Postal Service in an effort to disrupt mail in voting.

Tiffany Cross, an on-air political analyst, author and cable news veteran, said during a post-election interview on MSNBC that African-Americans have again saved America from itself.

“We saw the coalition after the South Carolina primary. Black voters are very pragmatic and look at who will do the least harm to our communities,” she explained. “And Biden was certainly helped by having Kamala on the ticket. Black women voters are the Democratic base. We have to ask why the other side didn’t vote for the greater good.”

Cross acknowledged the considerable support of the Latinx, Indigenous and Asian American/Pacific communities, “but certainly, by far, Black voters were dominant supporters giving him this victory. I anticipate that African-Americans will hold this administration accountable for some of the things they voted in the promise for. We voted for a country that has never loved us back, but we still voted with expectations of what this country might become for us after we built it for free.”

Black Votes Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown said in a Nov. 9 MSNBC interview that the massive nationwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May and the demands from Black Lives Matter activists and their allies that police departments be defunded and law enforcement held accountable, bled over into the election. America witnessed the largest social justice movement ever this summer which represents a paradigm shift, she said, and new energy from young and new voters who’re rooted in the BLM and ‘defund the police’ movements and moved into the Democratic fold.

Brown said she expects Biden’s words and promises to translate into action in the form of the administration’s cabinet choices, the other appointments it makes and the policies it pursues.

“There is a group of Black women who I am a part of who has an agenda to deal with political inequities in Black communities,” she said. “Sixty-eight percent of Black women are wage workers and they are frontline workers who have been devastated by coronavirus. We need a package for working class women.”

Brown, who spent the last several weeks on a bus tour in Southern states and the Midwest canvassing, registering, organizing and mobilizing Black voters, said other demands include expanding healthcare coverage for millions of Americans, and holding police departments and law enforcement across the country accountable, “for the safety of our community.”

“We also care about the environment, policies that look out for climate change, and protecting our country and the world, particularly climate control, said Brown, an award-winning organizer, political strategist and jazz singer.

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Brown said they hope the Biden administration and the Democratic establishment don’t do as they have done too often in the past: being excited that the grassroots got them elected and once the election is done, abandoning or sidelining these communities.

“Whoever brings you to the dance certainly you should stay with them,” said Brown. “Americans brought the collective victory … but we have to acknowledge that Black voters were key in this win. It’s profound what they did. We would not have seen these victories without Atlanta, Detroit and Milwaukee. We usually see Democrat shift to the right after elections. I hope this time is different.”

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