Donald Trump's stunning win following a polarizing and volatile presidential campaign has emboldened multitudes of disenchanted voters who are fed up with politics as usual.
But for millions of American Muslims, black and Latino voters, gays and lesbians, immigrants, people with disabilities, Jews, women and others offended by Trump during the long and grueling run-up to Election Day, Wednesday morning brought a looming sense of dread.
"What I hear is that people are afraid," John Lugo, an organizer for the New Haven-based grass-roots social activist group Unidad Latina en Accion, said. "All the reactions are negative. People are scared."
Immigrants are asking, "When are we going to be deported? … What's going to happen?" he said. "What is our future going to be in this country?"
Lugo said he believes Trump was able to play on the fears of white Americans, bringing them out in large enough numbers to offset the anti-Trump Latino vote.
Trump's renegade style and surprise victory set off a fresh round of soul-searching among immigrants concerned that his comments would spark a backlash.
Imam Mirzet Mehmedovic didn't know what to make of the news Wednesday morning. "There's not much to say," said Mehmedovic, the spiritual leader of the Hartford's Bosnian American Islamic Cultural Center. "If people choose him after everything being said throughout the campaign, that's what people want."
He said his congregants — part of the capital city's growing Bosnian immigrant community — didn't discuss Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign. It was hard, he said, to take the New York businessman seriously.
"Everything seemed like a joke during the campaign," Mehmedovic said. "It's one thing to hear what he said, it's another thing to hear that so many people are agreeing, and that's troubling. The lengths the nation seems to be willing to go to be more exclusive and radical, that's the scary part."
Carolina Bortolleto, who is 28 and lives in Danbury, said Trump's boast about building a wall along the Mexican border has galvanized young immigrants. "There's a lot of fear, but we're going to fight back," said Bortolleto, an undocumented immigrant who came to the U.S. from Brazil at age 9.
Scot X. Esdaile, who leads the NAACP in Connecticut, said he is concerned that Trump's ascendency could stoke racial tensions in a deeply divided nation.
"I'm not going to say we're scared," said Esdaile, who lives in New Haven and serves on the national board of the civil rights group. "We had to fight our way out of slavery. We fought Jim Crow. We fought segregation. It's sad we might have to go back and fight again, but it's imperative we get prepared for the worst."
Bishop John Selders, one of the founders of Moral Monday CT, a Hartford-based civil-rights group aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, said he is overcome by a sense that the nation is entering a new era.
"I think there's been an incredible upswing in just sheer emotions and energy around the notion that for the last eight years this country has been led by an African American president," Selders said. "Folks dug in their heels, gridlock ensued in [Washington] D.C., and here we are in this moment."
In the early afternoon more than 500 students gathered on the UConn campus in Storrs to rally against Trump.
Syed Saud, who is Muslim and a student, said he loves this country but was very disappointed by the vote.
"There are students on campus who voted for Trump," Saud said. "I don't think they actually understand what it means to vote for Trump, what it actually means to the black, Muslim, undocumented and LBGTQ community."
Holden Powell, a senior at UConn said, "Donald Trump has shown blatant ignorance against marginalized groups. I'm here because marginalized students are affected by Donald Trump's rhetoric and we came here … to create dialogue that will transition into an action of power against him."
Another student, Hanna Arel, said that she was sexually assaulted in high school and that "this entire election has been a trigger for me. The complete disregard that Trump has for women. The disgusting things he says about women. I cannot accept him as my president. He is a disgusting sexual assaulter."
In West Hartford, near Blue Back Square on Wednesday, Claudette Worth of Hartford said she was shocked that someone with no policy experience or "finesse" was elected.
"I was very disappointed," Worth said. "I just can't believe that someone so bigoted and controversial on his own could become president."
But Trump did better among African Americans than Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee. Samsen Joiner, an African American man who lives in West Hartford, said he would never have voted for Trump if he thought the president-elect was racist.
"I think people just need to do their research and they'll know he is not racist," Joiner said. "He may not use words that are politically correct, but hey, I would say 95 percent of the people talk the way he talks."
Joiner said he voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but the president "made a lot of promises he didn't keep." The country needs a businessman in charge, not a politician, he said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton, struck a conciliatory note in brief remarks he delivered at the state Capitol Wednesday morning.
"I believe that coming out of a period of partisan discord, we can and will return our focus to what unites us. At the core of this election, and perhaps at the core of the results, was that a very large portion of our country feels left behind or left out… they feel like they are no longer sharing equally in our nation's promise of prosperity," the governor said.
Saud Anwar, the former mayor of South Windsor, said he is advising worried citizens to take a deep breath. "I've been telling them to calm down and relax," said Anwar, who lost his race for the state House on Tuesday. "We are in the best part of the country, a part that is far more enlightened than other parts."
The fears in the Muslim community are rooted, Anwar said, in the belief that people will conflate the vitriol that successfully pushed Trump into the White House "as a license to target minorities."
Anwar said he hopes that the bulk of Trump's rhetoric was nothing more than a campaign tool used to garner votes. It's difficult to govern, he added, if a leader takes shots at different communities of citizens, especially minorities. "The election has divided us on so many lines, and [it is] important for us, regardless of who the president is, to have deeper conversations about respecting each other," he said. "We have to humanize each other and become stronger together."
Liz Kurantowicz, a Republican political operative, said she understands the fear that a Trump presidency invokes. "But it's important to remember nothing in Washington happens in a vacuum. The difference between being a candidate and being president is the fact that in order to get things done you have to build a coalition and contend with strong advocacy groups on all sides of critical issues, including members of Congress," she said.
Kurantowicz said she gave her brother, who recently moved to Houston with his husband, a pep talk Wednesday morning. "Remember, Donald Trump was the one who said Caitlin Jenner could use any bathroom she wanted in Trump Tower," Kurantowicz said.
Thoughout the campaign, Trump's message was often softened by his wife, Melania Trump, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, Kurantowicz said. "It will be particularly interesting to see the influence they have on the kind of president he will be."
Courant staff writers Jesse Leavenworth, Kathleen Megan and Kristin Stoller contributed to this story.