The Democratic Party saw some huge wins nationally on election night, with Black candidates including Yusef Salaam factoring in as part of the success.
Defying predictions from various pundits, voters around the country turned out to choose Democratic candidates and policies in major battleground states on Tuesday(November 7), turning back Republican efforts in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. In three of those races, Black candidates stood out, making significant history with their wins.
In New York City, Dr. Yusef Salaam was elected to the City Council, representing a district in upper Harlem after winning his primary election in a landslide and running unopposed on election night. A member of the Exonerated “Central Park” Five, Salaam along with four other Black and Latino teens were charged and wrongly convicted of beating and raping a white jogger in 1989. The Democratic politician spoke about how the experience of serving 7 years before his conviction was thrown out in 2002 “guides me and informs me and allows me to be a humble servant for the people.”
Another historic victory featuring a Black candidate came to fruition in Philadelphia as Democrat Cherelle Parker became the city’s first-ever woman mayor, soundly defeating Republican challenger David Oh. Parker’s win continues the streak of Democratic leadership in the city in the position since 1952 as she becomes its 100th mayor. The former Philadelphia City Council member ran on a platform of reinforcing public safety. “I’m uniquely prepared to make the city the safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation with access to economic opportunity for all,” she said during her campaign.
In another landmark moment, Gabriel Amo won his special election to become the first Black person to represent the state of Rhode Island in Congress. His robust victory over Republican Gerry Leonard earned him the seat vacated by former Representative David Cicciline. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Amo previously served as deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Biden and Obama presidential administrations. He recognized the impact of his win in speaking to the press afterward. “I certainly believe I am part of a generational shift that has been underway before me,” Amo said.