Mayor Linda Tyer speaks of Berkshires native Susan B. Anthony's efforts on voting rights that helped lead to the election of Kamala Harris as the first woman vice president.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was a day late, but county Democrats rallied on Sunday to celebrate the election of their presidential ticket.
Spontaneous celebrations broke out around the country — and in cities overseas — on Saturday afternoon when Joseph Biden was projected to become the nation's 46th president. His running mate, Kamala Harris was set to make history as the first woman elected vice president as well as breaking barriers as the first Black woman and first South Asian-American.
"Yesterday's result is the result of an enormous amount of organizing over a very long period of time, and I think that's most dramatically demonstrated in the Women's March that happened on Jan. 21, 2017," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier. "Six buses from Berkshire County, mostly women, went down to participate in that march, and really never giving up for one moment with the number of postcards written, letters written to swing states.
"People worked hard, they really wanted to take our democracy back and we were able to do that, and that's what I consider really dramatic and historical."
The Berkshire Democratic Brigades hosted the celebration at West Side Riverway Park with dancing, a drum performance, and speeches Farley-Bouvier, from Mayor Linda Tyer, local organizer Shirley Edgerton, District Attorney Andrea Harrington, Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi, and Berkshire NAACP President Dennis Powell.
The park was created under Tyer's leadership in the past five years. Decaying houses were demolished to make way for green space in the historic West Side neighborhood. Construction began last year and the city aims to have it completed by the spring time.
"Riverway Park is a very important project for this historical neighborhood here in the city of Pittsfield," Tyer said. "And there is no better place to celebrate what happened with the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in this neighborhood, it represents so much."
Tyer opended the rally by noting 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. The 19th Amendment, often called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment for the effort the Adams native made in pushing women's suffrage, was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920.
"It is Susan B. Anthony's shoulders that we stand on, and all of the suffragettes who gave women the right to vote," Tyer said. "It took way too long, but we now have our first female vice president of the United States."
Democrats may have won the election, she said, but the nation still has a lot of work to do because of the nearly 50 percent voted in favor of Donald Trump.
"Today, we celebrate, but tomorrow we have a lot of work to do because really, if we're honest with what we saw, half of the country does not agree with us," she said. "So we've got a lot of work to do and we Democrats, we're the ones that can build the bridges, we're the ones who want understand how we're different and why they think differently than we do so let's talk, not just to each other, but to people that don't think the way we do."
Edgerton, co-founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle, said the rally was planned within 24 hours in collaboration with the Brigades, a countywide Democratic group. The , Giving Circle, Pittsfield NAACP, Greylock Together, and Indivisible Pittsfield were also represented at the rally.
"My heart is full, my mind is at peace, and we celebrate this historic win for the White House," she said.
She recognized Harris for making history, saying she forged a seat at the highest decision making table on earth that was previously reserved for white men.
Farley-Bouvier also referenced the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying COVID-19 does not care about elections, and that residents need to take care of each other by making responsible decisions.
"As we have learned, democracy is really fragile, democracy takes a lot of work and a lot of attention and all of us have to keep up the fight so that we can keep democracy safe," she said. "So that we can take care of our fellow citizens, and so that we can recover from this economic crises and so that we can save our planet."
Powell, also a member of the Pittsfield School Committee, framed the election as history coming full circle.
"In June, when I spoke in Great Barrington, I talked about the White House being built by slaves, and I also stated that the ancestors of those slaves were coming for the keys," he said. "That the moratorium on eviction because of the pandemic did not include the White House, you will be evicted, I said, in November, because we're coming to the polls in numbers and we created history in 2020."
Powell also spoke about the importance of every vote and his pleasure that the Black community came out for this election in record numbers.
"We've gotta stop this nonsense that our vote doesn't count," he said.
About 90 people attended the celebration who were asked to wear masks and social distance to prevent the spread of the disease.
"We have all been on pins and needles for this last week since Tuesday, but what we know now is that voting works. When everyone votes, voting works, we can change the tide of our country, our state, and our community by voting," Tyer said.
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Last I checked we're a representitive republic and the results of the election aren't official until the electoral college votes, and there are deadlines in December for the final state tallys. Until then it's all "projected" This is how our representitive republic works.