President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on a platform that declared, “the soul of America is at stake.”
But perhaps it could equally be surmised that the 2020 presidential election’s outcome served as a litmus test on whether Black lives finally matter in America.
After decades – if not centuries – declaring the importance of the Black vote, African Americans delivered perhaps the most significant victory in the history of U.S. politics.
Their overwhelming support of Biden ended the four-year reign of President Donald Trump, making him the first one-term president since 1992 when George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton.
But unlike any other president in modern history, Trump has led the U.S. into a state of chaos and controversy. A second term, potentially with a Republican-controlled Senate, more than 300 Trump-appointed federal judges, and a heavily conservative Supreme Court, may have driven the nation closer to a dictator’s guidance than a democracy.
“Thanks in large part to the hard work and leadership of mamas of color, and especially Black women, voters turned out in record numbers to demand change and send the first Black mama to the White House,” Danielle Atkinson, the executive director of the nonprofit Mothering Justice Action Fund, wrote in an email.
“The historic election of Kamala Harris as vice president is a win both for and by Black women and mothers of color,” Atkinson said.
The many political experts who predicted a record number of Black voters this year proved to be correct. More than one-third of eligible Black voters living in nine of the nation’s most competitive states, including Arizona, Michigan Georgia and Wisconsin, cast their ballots.
“Especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest, the African-American community stood up again for me,” Biden remarked after winning the election.
“They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.”
According to the Pew Center for Research, Black voters comprise 12.5 percent of the U.S. electorate, with African Americans eligible to vote reaching a record 30 million this year.
Organizations like the NAACP, Black Girls Vote, and others began rallying African-American voters immediately after the 2016 election.
In Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes clinched the nomination for Biden, the difference would be predominately-Black Philadelphia where vote tabulations as of 1 p.m., Nov. 7, showed Biden winning 93.8 percent of the vote to Trump’s 5.7 percent.
Nationwide exit poll data reportedly shows that Black voters favored Biden by 87 percent.
Black Girls Vote reportedly joined forces with other groups in Baltimore, Detroit, and Philadelphia to encourage people to register to vote, fill out and mail-in ballots or go to polling places.
“I think the efforts around voter education, mobilization and registration highlight the critical importance of grassroots organizations, like Black Girls Vote, and the role that we play in truly in engaging and reaching all portions of the American electorate,” Natasha Murphy, of Black Girls Vote, told WBAL-TV in Baltimore.
Tenne Thrower worked in Philadelphia supporting efforts to get out the vote. She exclaimed excitement at seeing the process work.
“We wanted to make sure everyone knew this was not something to be intimidated by but something to be empowered by,” Thrower remarked.
Stacey Abrams, a former candidate for Georgia governor, organized Fair Fight to combat voter suppression and observed a significant difference in the number of African Americans voting in battleground states.
“We have seen dramatic turnout among communities that typically are not at the top of the mind for candidates, and we have seen them be engaged, be encouraged and we have seen them turnout,” Abrams said.
As the world waited four days after the election for results, the pendulum swung in favor of Biden when officials counted ballots in heavily-populated Black areas.
Unquestionably, the Black vote changed the game for Biden and the nation’s first female and Black vice president-elect, Kamala Harris.
“Did MSNBC just say the pathway to success was the Midwest?” Dr. Ebony Hilton, an associate professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Anesthesia at the University of Virginia Medical Center, tweeted.
“Can we leave that myth in 2020 along with this failed COVID-19 response? It was not the Midwest, working-class, or any other word of clouded in whiteness that you want to use. The path was paved by the base – Black people,” Hilton demanded.
NBA superstar LeBron James had this to say: “Black voters came through . . . again. Be proud as hell but do not stop! We must stay organized and keep working.”
Film director Ben Platt co-signed James’ message.
“Thank you, Black voters and voters of color for showing up and upholding a democracy that consistently lets you down. We once again owe this escape from doom by a whiteness majority to you,” Platt said.
Pennsylvania Democratic State Rep. Summer Lee said Black voters need more than just a thank you.
“Instead of thanking Black women, Black voters and especially, Black organizers, give us the investments we need and deserve, redistribute wealth, end police violence and commit to building Black directed political power and reparations,” Lee said.