Jan. 20 marked a historic front particularly for Black Americans who saw the first Black woman and the first South Asian woman sworn in as second in command of the nation.
Standing on the steps of a building built by slaves, overlooking land their hands tilled provided a sobering reminder of what founded America and the way forward. The contributions from Black people in America cannot be denied.
From the speeches and sermons, to the small intimate moments, Black culture was embedded throughout the ceremony. From the fashion choices of Kamala Harris, to Michelle Obama’s effortless slay, to National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s stirring recital of “The Hill We Climb,” the tone was set that Black people are not just the fundamental element of America, but the blood that runs throughout.
As Black voters again helped secure Democracy, they will undoubtedly look to a long awaited return on their investment, not just through words and empty promises, but through action and policy.
Vice President Harris undoubtedly will serve a crucial role in the trajectory of the country, and many will look to her leadership as President of the Senate in helping to charter course in policies that will produce equity for Black Americans, including financially, social justice, education and reproductive health.
But the work is not hers alone. Harris will work alongside President Joe Biden to deliver and restore Biden’s campaign slogan “The Soul of America.” With a diverse cabinet and a majority Democratic Congress, the priorities ahead lie within uniting the country, rebuking white supremacy, and providing a course of action to the challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus.
1. Kamala Harris wears purple, as a nod to Shirley ChisholmSource:Getty
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris opted to wear the color purple, while many speculated that she may don her sorority colors salmon pink and apple green. The color purple has deep roots in African nobility, signifying peace, royalty and dignity. Harris wore purple as a nod to Shirley Chisholm, who used the colors purple and yellow during her historic run for president in 1972. Her outfit was designed by two Black designers Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson.
2. Rep. Jim Clyburn dons SC State University baseball cap
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn wore a South Carolina State University hat, paying homage to his alma mater, one of the oldest historically Black colleges in the state. Clyburn is the third-ranking Democrat in the House.
3. Barack and Michelle Obama arrive at U.S. Capitol
The Obamas as expected arrived at inauguration to support Biden and Harris. Their arrival was welcomed with a large applause and cheers.
4. Capitol Officer Eugene Goodman escorts Kamala Harris
Goodman garnered acclaim after his quick decision during the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the rioters from storming the Senate floor. He escorted Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, as they took the steps to make history as the first Black woman to hold the office of Vice President and the first Second Gentleman. Goodman was promoted to acting deputy House sergeant at arms.
5. Obama and Harris fist bump on platform
A meeting of firsts is captured in what will be an iconic photo: The first Black President of the United States and the first Black Vice President.
6. Fire captain Andrea Hall signs the Pledge of Allegiance
South Fulton Fire Captain Andrea Hall led the pledge of allegiance with an inclusive gesture by signing the Pledge of Allegiance rather than just simply reciting it.
7. Kamala Harris sworn into office
Kamala Harris was sworn into office by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, making “Herstory” as the first Black and South Asian woman to hold the office of Vice President.
8. Remembering Barack Obama’s emotional rendering of “Amazing Grace”
Country singer Garth Brooks sang “Amazing Grace” at the ceremony, however GOP Rep. Roy Blunt recalled the stirring moment when Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” after he gave the eulogy for Rev. Clemente Pinckney, one of the nine people who were killed by a white supremacist at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
9. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s recital of “The Hill We Climb”
Gorman’s poem was riddled with references to the deep divisions held within the country, but shed light on the notion that the stain of racism and white supremacy in America’s history can be revoked.
10. Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman
Rev. Silvester Beaman who heads Bethel A.M.E. Church in Wilmington, Delaware, gave a a stirring speech on forgiveness and acknowledgement during his powerful benediction. “This is our country. As such, teach us, oh God … to live in it, love in it, be healed in it, and reconcile to one another in it,” he said.
11. Howard University’s “Showtime” Marching Band escorts Vice President Harris
The “Showtime” Marching Band came through spilling over Black excellence with high steps, dancing and tunes. Howard University served their alumnus Vice President Harris very well.