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Georgia Senate Races, Haitian Independence and History Miami 2020 Archive

Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue (left) speaks to supporters at a primary election night party on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue (left) speaks to supporters at a primary election night party on Tuesday in Atlanta.

With Georgia's Senate races underway, how did it become a purple state and how did Florida become consistently red? Plus, a conversation about Haitian Independence Day. And History Miami wants the items that remind you of 2020, they're creating an archive.

On this Tuesday, Jan. 5 edition of Sundial

Florida and Georgia Politics

The fate over which party controls the U.S. Senate during the first two years of President-elect Biden’s term, is in the hands of Georgia voters. The two runoff Senate races in Georgia have already become some of the most expensive special elections in U.S. history, with $500 million already spent in television and radio ads.

As Georgia’s southern neighbor, Florida is used to being in the political spotlight. But after two consecutive presidential elections where Republicans handedly took the White House and flipped key seats in the Congress, political analysts like Susan MacManus are left to wonder whether that spotlight will remain.

“Right now, Republicans and others outside of Florida are quick to say Florida is no longer a swing state. It's red because of this margin of victory. Republicans picked up seats in Congress, the state Senate and House. On the other hand, there's a lot that can be said that Democrats lost this race just because they ran a very, very bad campaign,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor emeritus at the University of South Florida.

MacManus points to “all kinds of things that went wrong," such as bad polling and the assumption that different ethnic groups within Latin America and the Caribbean all vote the same. But MacManus argued with changing racial demographics, and a younger, more liberal generation accounting for a larger share of the electorate, Florida Democrats still regard it as a swing state.

In Georgia, the Republican strength peaked fifteen years ago, and Democrats have been attempting to make a comeback since then according to Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

“Now, Biden carries the state by about 12,000 [votes]. The change has been coming gradually. People who come to Georgia have brought their Democratic leanings with them. And it's also a very diverse population that is coming to Georgia. So, that's fueling these changes. Republicans need to be aware that if they don't broaden their base, that Georgia will become increasingly democratic with each succeeding election,” says Bullock.

Haitian Independence Day

For the hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Americans living in South Florida, Jan. 1st signifies a day of celebration that goes beyond New Year's celebrations. On that date in 1804, Haiti became the first country in the globe to successfully end slavery through a rebellion and achieve it’s own independent democratic government.

The political, socio-economic and health crises facing Haiti put a different lens on the holiday this year.

“Haiti gained its independence. I feel like what came afterwards was some of the challenges of maintaining that solidarity in the Americas to be perceived as equitable, racially powerful people with any other group," said Dr. Charlene Dèsir, who has spent years studying the psychology of children in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora in the U.S. "I think there was some of the issues that continue to face many people in the Americas of African descent is the issues of value and worthiness and being perceived as able to govern themselves and support their communities.”

She said that for younger generations of Haitian-Americans, Haitian independence is a Pan-African movement — a Pan-African alliance of people of African descent from around the world coming together.

“As I think about the protests that were happening here, there were protests happening in Haiti, too, at the same time. It was a solidarity around the issues of dignity and the issues of equity. I believe for the younger generations it means something bigger. It's not only a historical event that happened once upon a time. It's a maintenance of that equity. It’s understanding that independence is still in our blood,” Dèsir said.

History Miami

2020 proved to be a historic year with an unprecedented global health crisis, the largest protests for racial justice in U.S. history and a presidential election. History Miami is seeking items to create a communal archive of the year — and they need your help.

The museum is collecting items, written stories and recorded videos to create a living time capsule of this historic period.

“We had the Grim Reaper outfit that was worn by the attorney from North Florida that walked along the beaches trying to spread the word about how dangerous having to the public beaches open, trying to tell the governor to make sure that you close them down, helps curtail the spread of the virus,” said Jorge Zamanillo, the executive director of History Miami.

Other items donated included protest signs from Black Lives Matter demonstrations, election signs from different campaigns, and even vaccine vials used to administer the first COVID-19 vaccine in the hospital.

You can go to this link to submit a written story, video submission, or item.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.
Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.