Even as President Donald Trump holds off on conceding to President-elect Joe Biden, Philadelphia continues to celebrate his loss. This Sunday, the celebration is in the form of a motorcade through the city.
The “PA will be Blue” drive started at the SEPTA Fern Rock Station at noon. The event, which comes equipped with a DJ booth placed on a truck, was dubbed “a socially distant jawn… cause a change is comin’.”
“It’s been a long nine months of being in the house,” said Dr. Ala Stanford, holding back tears and acknowledging the toll the pandemic and a year of highly publicized fatal police killings of Black Americans have had on Black communities. “The kids not going to school, the people we know dying, people we know surviving, but not being the same person they were before. People watching people die on TV.”
Stanford, the founder of Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, which launched in March in an effort to test more Black residents in the city, said she helped organize the motorcade to give Philadelphia’s Black residents “a minute, just a minute… to just celebrate, to rejoice” over the Biden-Harris win.
For many in the crowd, the Biden-Harris win does not mean the end to the inequities Black Americans face in the country. It’s also not a complete rebuke of Trump, who garnered more than 70 million votes.
But for Kennedy Covington, 17, the win offers a moment of hope in what’s been a bleak year — she almost cried in public when she heard the news Harris would be the first woman vice president of color.
“I was just so happy that we’re going to be represented as something so high valued, it’s just something to be proud of,” said Covington.
For Covington’s mother, Leslie Wood, the win is also an opportunity to continue working toward a more equitable country.
“Number one, Black Lives Matter,” said Wood. “Until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
And Black voters who phone banked and door knocked to get out the vote for the Biden ticket are ready to hold him to the promises he made in his Wilmington victory speech Saturday night.
“You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours,” said Biden.
WHYY columnist and radio personality Solomon Jones told the 50 people in the Fern Rock station parking lot that their work helped propel Biden to the White House.
“The reason that Biden won is because of Black votes in Philadelphia,” said Jones. “And there’s a bill that’s going to come due for that. We got some stuff that we need. We need some jobs, we need some money for our businesses, we need some money for our schools, we need some money for our kids.”
But at least on Sunday, Black voters said they planned to celebrate.
For days the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has shown the world how full of life its protests are, equipped with drums, pretzels and tacos, and a Muppet with incredible dance skills.
The motorcade of about two dozen cars drove down Broad Street to the Art Museum, where more than 100 Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters showed off their letters and toasted fellow soror Kamala Harris.
Still, Dana Williams said Harris’ win was also one for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities like her.
“There’s always this underlying tone that those schools don’t prepare us for the real world, they do not give us the skills that we need … and anybody that’s a graduate of an HBCU will tell you otherwise,” explained Williams. Harris is a graduate of Howard University.
“We’ve told you we are achieving, we’ve told you that we’re living well, we’ve told you that we are capable, what other proof do we need?” Asked Williams. “Here’s the proof … please give us our due respect.”