By Tribune Staff
NASHVILLE, TN — After a four-year period of darkness that also saw a willing embrace of bigotry and hatred, last Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President set a new tone in America. With Biden becoming the nation’s 46th president, he becomes the oldest man ever elected to that office.
But for millions of other Americans long marginalized by systemic racism and economic inequality, Kamala Harris’ inauguration as the nation’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice President sends the larger signal as the final shattering of a ceiling that had seemed unreachable and unthinkable for centuries.
That it came only two weeks after the ugly events that saw a mob composed of pro-Trump supporters, heavily infiltrated by White supremacists, invade the capitol trying to force an unconstitutional change of the election results was also noteworthy. The extremely heavy security around Washington D.C. reflected that incident and the desire of government officials to prevent a recurrence of that type of behavior.
However, it was also a time for celebration. America’s 59th inauguration ceremony, which happened two days after the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration, saw the inaugural committee spearhead two key events in the same week. On the preceding Monday, they presented a nationally televised MLK Day program that featured several speakers. These included Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Aloe Blacc, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Then on Wednesday Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts. Kamala Harris’ historic swearing-in ceremony as the first female vice president was done by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Before the ceremony, President Biden and Vice President Harris attended a service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
As a salute to her HBCU background and heritage, Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band escorted Vice President Harris and performed a special drum cadence in her honor. Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick stated, “It is our esteemed honor to be involved in the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.”
Amanda Gorman, America’s first youth poet laureate, gave a resounding presentation following President Biden’s inaugural speech. Gorman said, “We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will become the future.”
The theme for Biden’s inauguration was “America United,” an idea that social distancing does not warrant a discord in social behavior. He said the truth has been revealed countless times; the nation is living in a space of hate based on the color of one’s skin. The Biden presidency promises to work daily in making this nation face the racial problems that plague underrepresented communities. Both and Vice-President Harris are striving for an America free from the glass ceiling that has historically held women and minorities back from national power and influence.