On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has been sworn in as the 46th US President and Kamala Harris, as the Vice-President. They took office at a moment of major events, crises, and aspirations in the United States of America: healthcare crisis, profound economic challenges, and political crises, cries for unity and racial justice, and after a tumultuous four years that shattered the fabric of American society. Starting his Inaugural Address, President Joe Biden said: “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day.”
In a ceremony administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., completing the process at 11:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the authority of the presidency formally changes hands, Joe Biden, putting his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, recited the 35-word oath of office swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”
Earlier, Vice-President Kamala Harris, AfroAmerica Network Black Woman of Year 2020, was sworn in as the nation’s first female, Black and South Asian American vice president. Kamala Harris has broken several barriers throughout her career as a Black Woman: as U.S. Senator for California, she was the second Black woman and first South Asian American to serve in the US Senate. Prior to her Senate tenure, Kamala Harris became the first female, Black and South Asian American attorney general of California.
After her own inauguration, Kamala Harris will later swear in three barrier-breaking senators in her new role as president of the US Senate (see AfroAmerica Network: Georgia US Senate Runoff Election: Jon Ossoff, Rev Raphael Warnock, and Stacey Abrams Make History):
- Rev. Raphael Warnock will be the first Black senator from Georgia and first Black Senator from a Southern State to be elected;
- Jon Ossoff, first Jewish senator from Georgia;
- Alex Padilla, appointed by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as Harris’ successor, as the first Latino senator from the state.
Highlighting the challenges and hopes of the moment, President Joe Bidem said: “Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now ... Here we stand, looking out on the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream ... Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change."
Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old award winning poet and Black woman from Los Angeles, following in the steps of Maya Angelou and other reknown poets, read her poem at President Biden's inauguration. The poem, "The Hill We Climb" , inspires hope after a period of turmoil and reads, in part, as follows:
"We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us. "
@AfroAmerica Network, 2021