Out of many, one.

We are a wonderfully diverse nation and that played out in this election.

Record numbers of voters of all races and political parties and in all corners of our country have voted. Over 160 million Americans have made their voices heard, and a clear majority voted to usher in a new administration, trusting them to restore the soul of our great nation as we enter a new era.

America’s democratic institutions and values have prevailed once again.

I am in awe of the many leaders and groups who organized like never before, despite the pandemic. While record voter turnout is certainly encouraging, this election season has also shown us how much work we have to do. Institutionalized voter suppression remained rampant. And, there are deep fissures across race, gender, class and educational attainment, along with a real urban and rural divide. Exit polls showed racial justice was a top issue among voters, and witnessing the protests that have taken place over the last few months was a factor for many. According to one report, “70 percent of voters polled in the A.P. VoteCast survey said racism in policing was a very serious or somewhat serious problem.” We applaud the President-Elect and the Vice President-Elect both for acknowledging the need to address structural racism in our country.

In the same week that we elected a new president, our country also saw new records in daily COVID-19 cases. This virus, which has exposed pre-existing racial health disparities, continues to ravage the South. In the coming months, it is imperative that we develop a national strategy to combat this virus.

The road ahead of us will be long, and at times it will be uncomfortable, but I know most Americans are committed to working together to build this nation back better and more equitably than before. Here at E Pluribus Unum, we look forward to continuing our work to build a greater South and bridge the gaps that have divided us for centuries.

We voted. But, our work is not done. For now, take a moment to breathe. Then, our work continues together.

Mitch Landrieu
Founder & President, E Pluribus Unum

News and stories about how southern communities are responding to COVID-19

Alabama voters reversed their previous stance and removed racist vestiges of segregation from the state constitution that courts ruled unconstitutional long ago. In a year when discussions of racial justice have dominated American society, Alabama is one of five states that voted to cleanse the public sphere of words, phrases and symbols that to many were painful reminders of the nation’s history of slavery and the systematic oppression of Black people. [AL.com]

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas climbed to their highest level yet on Sunday as the state reported an additional 1,038 new COVID-19 cases, the fifth day in a row with more than 1,000 virus cases. [Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette]

As a result of economic challenges spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 14.4% of residents in the Miami metro area are living in households without enough to eat. In the previous fiscal year, the non-profit Feeding South Florida distributed 61.5 million pounds of food. In the fiscal year that ended in June, it distributed 119 million pounds of food, including 60 million pounds from March to June alone. [Miami-Herald]

Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor said Monday that neither the state’s attorney general nor the secretary of state had reported any “credible incidents” of systemic fraud or voter disenfranchisement to his office. [Axios]

Kentucky is suspending in-person unemployment assistance for the next two weeks due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. The Kentucky Career Center has been handling claims involving unemployment insurance benefits over the past few months, working through a backlog across the state. [WLKY]

Instead of simply reporting how many coronavirus cases have been found in Louisiana nursing homes, the state has also begun reporting the number of cases that originated at each facility, a statistic that paints a more accurate picture of outbreaks. [The Advocate]

In a tweet Thursday, Governor Tate Reeves said he will do “everything in his power” to prevent the expansion of early voting and universal mail-in voting from being implemented in Mississippi. [Clarion Ledger]

North Carolina
Two restaurant owners in North Carolina have won a lawsuit they filed accusing their insurance company of not honoring its contract when they had to close their businesses due to the coronavirus. [Winston-Salem Journal]

South Carolina
The pandemic had delayed many South Carolina adoptions this year, with significantly fewer being finalized in 2020 compared to 2019. There have been 355 adoptions finalized this year, as of the beginning of November, compared to a historical high of 576 last year and 462 adoptions in 2018.[WBTW]

Students, faculty and staff of the University of Tennessee rallied Friday to request hazard pay and a $15-minimum-wage for custodians working through the pandemic. [Tennessean]

Hospitals in north Texas remain concerned about rising COVID-19 cases as the state reported 5,404 new cases with almost 2,000 of those cases coming from the El Paso area. [NBC DFW]

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched Build Back — Dream Forward — a post-COVID-19 Growth Initiative. Its purpose is to achieve social and economic equity, promote racial justice and equity and catalyze more inclusive systems of economic growth in northern Virginia. Its focus is on local communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. [Virginia Patch]

West Virginia
West Virginia is spending more than $1 million per day on testing, and only has $80 million in federal aid left in the testing account. Still, the governor says the fastest way to catch potential spreaders is to get tested now. [WOWK]