I couldn’t believe the laughing and overwhelming feeling of release emanating from the city of Washington, DC last weekend. Walking down the streets with my camera, people were honking horns down every road, holding Biden/Harris signs out of windows and shouting with joy. It had been a while since I had been out capturing moments like this. During the pandemic, I have been photographing desolate cities and empty streets to illustrate the effects of the coronavirus, as well as doing what I can with a camera to amplify the messages of the protests against police violence, murders, and racism. But on November 7th, 2020, the mood was different.
As Joe Biden’s win was announced that day, my friend Benjamin and I decided to head to DC to take some pictures. It took some time to adjust. I wasn’t used to so many people outside and being happy. Yes, happy. There were hundreds of people throughout Black Lives Matter Plaza and in front of the White House celebrating. Spraying champagne and laughing.
It felt like someone had opened a release valve on a pressure cooker, and it was a moment to revel in. I’m fairly certain there were many people there who were satisfied with Biden and who voted for him, but the more I listened on the streets, it just seemed like everyone was relieved to wake from a four-year-long fever dream. Hope crept in like a cool breeze on a sweltering day. The work of fighting for justice, equal rights, and dismantling white supremacy is nowhere near finished, but Trump’s defeat was a step forward after taking so many steps backward.
There is more to do, but I hope the feeling the evening of November 7 held fills people with fortitude and a sense that we can still win our battles. I hope for more of those nights—we need more joy like that night. It’s part of what we’re fighting for.