Cities across the country erupted into celebration following the results of the presidential election, and the Binghamton area is no different.
On Saturday night, around 60 community members and Binghamton University students gathered in front of the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Downtown Binghamton to celebrate President-elect Joseph Biden’s election win. The event, titled “Out of the POLLS, Into the STREETS,” was organized by community members before the presidential race was called. The event aimed to bring attention to various issues, such as housing, racial justice and health care. Shanel Boyce, ‘14, MSW ’18 and an organizer, explained how the rally was intended to emphasize the need for political involvement beyond electoral politics.
“I think there has been such a focus on, ‘OK, we need to count every vote, we need to protect and make sure we have a peaceful transition of power,’ but we have to realize that, yes, it looks like we are slated to win, which we all have been watching very closely for the last couple days, but that’s not where it ends,” Boyce said. “We have to make sure that our activism doesn’t stop — or start — at the ballot box.”
There were two shifts of demonstrators — the first being at noon and the second being at 6 p.m. It was at the second shift, dubbed the “party shift,” where attendees reveled in the outcome of the election. A banner reading “Fight 4 Abolition Not Politicians” was hung on the stairs of the building as well as rainbow pride flags and flags reading “Black Lives Matter.” Party lights and a public announcement (PA) system to play music were set up to create an atmosphere for participants to dance. Some attendees formed a drum circle adjacent to the dancers and played along to the music going through the PA system.
Torosa Rahman, a junior majoring in psychology, said she felt the rally created a positive atmosphere.
“I think more events like this as they happen, especially in Binghamton, bring the community together,” Rahman said. “I’m from New York City, so it’s really diverse there, and everyone’s pretty open and to the left, but here it’s a little bit different. So it’s nice to see the community — there’s people who actually support things like Black Lives Matter.”
Ariana Brown, a junior majoring in English, came to the event because she wanted to get more involved in the community. She also believes events like this can help with the healing of the country following the divisiveness of the election.
“I hope people go home and educate themselves and get involved,” Brown said. “They don’t have to be on the same side, but as long as we all respect each other, it’s really nice.”
While the defeat of incumbent President Donald Trump was a cause for celebration of many of the attendees, Thomas Gray, 30, of Binghamton, described the historic importance of Biden’s win, specifically with regards to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“I know that this was a historic victory, and a historic election in general, and now we’ve got the first woman vice president,” Gray said. “I think that that’s big, and I think that is representative for a lot of young women, and a lot of women in general, to see power in themselves.”
Although the crowd decreased to about 40 people as the night went on, the celebratory energy was kept alive. Refreshments were brought in at around 8:30 p.m., and the attendees continued their dancing and festivities for another hour.
Ashley Montalvo, 30, of Binghamton and an organizer, explained the importance of celebrating the election results during such a tumultuous time in history.
“We wanted a night to feel good and not have to do all this work because we’ve been working, we’ve been since the summer, beyond that,” Montalvo said. “But we’ve been really going hard since the summer with all the marches and the demonstrations and stuff like that, so we just wanted a night where we can let loose because Black joy is a form of protest too.”
Boyce and Montalvo both expressed the importance of making sure elected officials are held accountable for their campaign promises and whether they work on issues at the local level for the future. Boyce described the dynamic between the electorate and elected officials as a type of agreement.
“Biden and Harris have made a lot of promises and we held up our end of the bargain — we put them in the White House — so now what are they going to do?” Boyce said. “We are going to make sure that we hold them accountable.”
As the country celebrates the Biden win, Montalvo stressed that this is not the end.
“We’re going to keep fighting to make sure that our community has the resources that they need,” Montalvo said. “There’s just so many things at the local level that we still need to tackle. But I think that Trump being gone kind of let people have a little bit of a sigh of relief, but if this is it for you, if this is like ‘OK, that’s it, we’re good,’ then that’s privilege right there and we don’t have that privilege — we can’t rest.”