On Saturday morning, Berkeley residents awoke to honking cars and cheering in the streets as students and community members alike reacted to news of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential race.
The announcement of Biden’s victory broke the tensions that had been brewing for days as the ballots were being counted. At the intersection of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, a growing crowd of UC Berkeley students and city locals gathered with pots, spoons and banners, celebrating the end of the election.
“When I heard the news that Biden was elected, it made me feel hopeful and enthusiastic. Trump put us back in environmental protection and systematic racism. Hopefully, things will get better,” said campus sophomore Lula Desta. “It makes me feel amazing that our vice president is a Black woman who attended (a historically Black college) and is from Oakland, California.”
Desta, who watched the festivities in Berkeley with her friends, was one of many campus students who expressed optimism about President-elect Biden’s successful campaign. Roya Safaeinili, a UC Berkeley alumna, said she hopes Biden’s election will allow for a more progressive agenda in the United States.
In addition to campus students, many Berkeley locals also participated in Saturday’s celebrations. Berkeley resident Ying Liu was seen dancing and cheering with a crowd of people gathered at Sproul Plaza.
“I feel so relieved. It’s like a huge weight has lifted off of me,” Liu said. “But I don’t think the fight is over. We still have to be vigilant. Too many people voted for the wrong side.”
Similar to Liu, other Alameda County locals celebrated the election results in the streets of Berkeley. According to Quandra Ringold, an Oakland resident, Biden’s election represented a “new day in America” and would be followed by a response to issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following their own electoral successes, Berkeley government officials also expressed their support for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Berkeley City Councilmember Susan Wengraf said she was relieved to hear the election results but citizens should continue with their political efforts.
“I felt like, all of a sudden, the clouds had parted, and the sun came out. I felt like there was hope,” Wengraf said. “It’s incredible that Biden and Harris will be in the White House, but it’s also important to remember that we need the Senate seats to pass to get a majority. People should continue to help win those seats.”
City Councilmember Rigel Robinson echoed Wengraf’s sentiments in an email, reminding citizens that the “soul of the nation” had yet to be restored. He added that while the establishment of the Biden administration would allow for the process to begin, there was still work to be done.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín also expressed enthusiasm about what Biden’s election could mean for cities such as Berkeley. According to Arreguìn, Biden’s presidency and Harris’ vice presidency will allow communities to progress in the fight for equality and justice.
“Over the past four years, the divisive Trump Administration has vilified cities and jurisdictions like Berkeley,” Arreguín said in an email. “A Biden Administration will be more cooperative and responsive to the needs of our community, from addressing COVID-19 to homelessness. Cities like Berkeley will once again have a true national partner in our mission to create a better, more just world for all of us.”