The Associated Press declared Biden the winner of the tightly contested election on Saturday morning, after days of waiting. The former US vice president is expected to take the reins of a deeply divided nation that is struggling to contain a pandemic that has killed more than 236,000 Americans.
“I was getting ready for this day for a long time,” Andrew Hasson, who joined the crowd outside the White House, told Al Jazeera. “This week was super stressful just waiting for the results to come in, but this is a great feeling and DC feels alive again.”
Trump supporters were noticeably absent from the scene outside the White House, though that is unsurprising: Washington, DC is a Democratic stronghold where over 93 percent of people voted for Biden.
Trump voters protested in other parts of the country, refusing to accept defeat and pushing unfounded theories that widespread voter fraud was “stealing” Trump’s second term in office.
Trump has so far refused to concede and has promised to challenge the result. But legal experts say Trump’s accusations of fraud are unfounded and are unlikely to succeed.
“I think there will be a period in the US and around the world of relief and celebration and rightfully so, and then a period of healing and bringing the country together again,” said Brice Hall, who was wrapped in an American flag.
Trump’s time in office was characterised by harsh immigration policies, including a ban preventing citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, as well as withdrawal from several international agreements and a refusal to condemn white supremacists.
“I’m overjoyed,” said Brown Warren, an immigration lawyer who came with friends to celebrate.
“I personally have seen how Donald Trump’s policies have very negatively impacted not only immigration law, but this country as a whole,” she said from behind a blue mask. “So it’s very exciting to think about how the next year could look like moving forward without Donald Trump as a president.”
Elsewhere in DC, residents stood on their balconies and gathered on rooftops to cheer.
Biden, 77, who served for eight years as Vice President under Barack Obama, galvanized a broad coalition of voters across the US around the notion that Trump was a threat to American democracy and to the “soul” of the nation.
In a statement on Saturday, Biden said it was time for the nation “to unite and to heal”.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said. “There’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, is also making history. She is the first Black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to become vice president.