In 2020, Black Lives Matter protests spread across the world after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
Fueled by anger over police murders such as Breonna Taylor’s, and exacerbated by the fact that blacks die disproportionately from COVID-19, the United States was confronted this year with its legacy of slavery and racial inequality that continues to this day.
Many saw this year’s election as a referendum on the racial question-and view the defeat of President Donald Trump as a great victory for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Patrisse Cullors, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, told Washington Newsday that Joe Biden’s victory “is an important first step to show that our power is growing and that safe, strong and healthy black communities are our future.
Their position is underscored by the historic victory of Cori Bush in Missouri. Bush, who went into politics after protesting the shooting of Michael Brown by police in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, was elected the state’s first black congressman.
Cullors added, “While Joe Biden is far from perfect, with a leader in office who will condemn white supremacy, we can begin to work to dismantle a system that has not worked for the black community for too long.
The black community was “the catalyst for Biden’s victory – especially black women voting at the highest levels of all demographic groups in the country,” Cullors said.
And indeed, polls show that 87 percent of black votes went to Biden, compared to only 12 percent for Trump.
Black votes were also a key factor in Biden’s victory in the key states where the battle for the presidency was fought – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In fact, it was the postal votes in Philadelphia, a city where there were many protests against police brutality and racial injustice during the year, that brought Biden above the threshold of 270 votes in the electoral college necessary for a White House victory.
Jessica Byrd, the founder of the Movement for Black Lives’ electoral justice project and leader of The Frontline, a black-led, cross-racial coalition that seeks to mobilize voters, said the months of protests against police brutality and racial injustice “changed the political conditions for [Biden] to win.
“I don’t see Biden as a savior,” she told Washington Newsday, “but I do see him as an organizing target that allows us to negotiate the conditions for what it means to be here and to build and shape this country together.
Although the Democrat is scheduled to take office in January, Byrd said the Movement for Black Lives would immediately begin organizing at the local and federal levels.
Byrd said they will fight to ensure that Biden delivers on the promises he made on the campaign trail that would “immediately support black lives” in the first 100 days of his administration. “This election was always seen as a step in our long struggle for liberation,” Cullors added.
Both Biden and Harris have already acknowledged the role black voters have played in securing their victory and pledged to work to combat systemic racism in the United States.
“The African American community has stood up for me again,” Biden said Saturday night in a victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “You will always stand behind me, and I will always stand behind you,” he added.
Harris, who made history after being the first woman and also the first black person to be elected vice president, nodded his head at the Black Lives Matter protests that took place later this year.
Americans “marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives and for our planet. And then you voted. You sent a clear message,” she said.
The official Biden Harris transition website lists racial equality as one of the four priorities. The website states that the administration intends to work with Congress to pass police reform legislation, including: a nationwide ban on strangleholds; stopping the transfer of weapons of war to police forces; improving oversight and accountability; and creating a national police oversight commission.
The Cullors sent a