I landed in Philadelphia at 4:29 p.m. Saturday, 5 hours after the AP called the election for Joe Biden. Celebrations had been going on all day, and our route back to Andrew and Kendall’s place in Fishtown included a stop in Center City, where the mood was ecstatic. It didn’t hurt that the temperature lingered at 74 degrees even as the sun set.
Car horns blared as pedestrians waved and shouted. Live music—from a solo trumpeter playing “America the Beautiful” to an Irish band seated outside of a pub. At a peaceful gathering, those who hoisted Biden-Harris signs outshouted a much smaller group waving the sign “Blue Lives Matter.” News and National Guard helicopters droned overhead. A group danced the wobble in front of City Hall. The police had a presence but seemed to be enjoying the festivities as much as the citizens of the city that helped deliver a Biden win.
It’s all music to my ears. I haven’t heard such joy in a good long while. Frankly, there hasn’t been much to celebrate. Covid is reaching new peaks of infection rates. The economy is reeling. Working families are navigating the rough waters of doing their job from home and trying to provideUnemployment numbers remain high. Our favorite restaurants have closed. Netflix and other online options have replaced going out to a movie. Orchestras have switched to concerts online, even as many of us dread yet another Zoom/YouTube experience in a day already full of them.
The best sound was the collective sigh of relief heard around the country when Biden, in his acceptance speech, promoted the very values that have been censored for the past 4 years: unity, civility, and, finally, hope. When Harris spoke to women, especially Black women, about how dreams can come true.
How is it that we went so long not being heard? So long being drowned out instead by harsh, damaging rhetoric So long being muffled by fear-mongering and threats. So long being silenced because one man decided our voices mean nothing.
On August 28, 1963, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech, building to this crescendo:
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California . . . Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
The people have spoken.