America has seen true darkness; the COVID-19 outbreak catapulted the nation into a new way of operation, with many lives lost. The escalated climate during the leadership of the 45th president, Donald Trump, coupled with unjust behavior fueled by racism, created a hemorrhage in the country’s unity and applied pressure to a new awareness around the minds of society.
However, there is a new light leading America; one that touches a new precipice, as the nation witnesses Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman take an oath as Vice President on Wednesday, January 20. The 59th Inauguration had an air of division, but due to Kamala Harris’ presence, there is a beacon that is signaling equality and unity that will guide monumental steps into a new day in America.
Events leading up to the inauguration set the stage for the original vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. On Monday, the Presidential Inaugural Committee collaborated with multiple organizations to highlight the national day recognized for Martin Luther King, Jr.; the hour-long televised celebration brought a wide range of speakers and entertainers, such as Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Aloe Blacc, and Rev. Al Sharpton. Harris is living proof that King’s words have carried through generations in order to get to this point of acceptance.
Newly sworn-in national leaders, Biden and Harris, took their oath on Jan. 20, at 7 a.m. pacific standard time. They were surrounded by heavy security due to recent events that compromised the safety of Capitol Hill weeks before.
President Biden and Vice President Harris attended a service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle before heading to the ceremony, where they have devoted their time in office to uniting America. Former president, Trump did not participate in the passing of the torch; he was set to be at the Palm Beach International Airport as the event took place, according to CBS News.
Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band escorted Vice President Kamala 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.”
Pop icon, Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem, and Jennifer Lopez serenaded Capitol Hill with “This Land is Your Land.” Later that day, Tom Hanks hosted a 90-minute primetime television special that celebrated the Biden-Harris inauguration. Other performers included Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, and Ant Clemons.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latinx woman to serve on the Supreme Court, administered the oath to Kamala Harris; the new vice president raised her right hand with pride and defined today as a monumental time in American history.
President Joe Biden was sworn in and called for America to be “better” in his following speech. President Biden stated, “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me in this cause.”
Amanda Gorman is America’s first youth poet laureate; her words followed 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.”
Mirroring the new normal Americans see today, the 59th inauguration looked different. The event’s pandemic restraints allowed 1,000 people in attendance; generally, 200,000 tickets are distributed. This inauguration was the first of its kind, being produced as a digital-only ceremony. The traditional inaugural parade was also virtual; Biden and Harris were escorted from 15th Street to the White House, with heavy security in step with the US Army Band, the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, and the Fife Drum Corps.
According to the official website for the 59th inauguration, Bideninaugural.org, President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn in on the West lawn front of the U.S. Capitol building. Following the moment of promise, Biden and Harris, along with their spouses, participated in a Pass in Review on the East front, a tradition performed to reflect a peaceful transaction that transfers the symbolic passing of power to the new Commander-in-Chief.
The organization responsible to uphold the legacy of Inaugural Ceremonies is the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC); they have organized these events since 1901. The committee is made up of House and Senate lawmakers, who earlier this year in July, finalized a budget of 1.5 million dollars for this event.
The Associated Press reported a statement released from the committee outlining their goal for the 59th inauguration, which stated, “Our goal is to create an inauguration that keeps people safe, honors the grand traditions of the presidency, and showcases the Biden-Harris administration’s renewed American vision for an inclusive, equitable, and unified citizenry.”
The theme for Biden’s inauguration was “America United,” an ideal 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. However, as it is well known, that the truth will set one free. The president wants an America free from ignoring the racial problems that plague underrepresented communities. He wants an America free from the glass ceiling that has historically held women and minorities back from national power and influence.
There is a sense of freedom still ringing; Dr. King heard it before the rest of his peers. Through his legacy and combined work of the activists who followed him, America has seen a woman of color hold one of the most powerful seats in the world, and her oath reflects her truth that aligns to the constitution she respects. The story of America is a melting pot of the world’s narrative, the one thing that remains constant is the principle of acceptance in change. After the ceremony and the traditions are exercised, the real work begins for the Biden-Harris administration. The theme that looks to shape the political journey is that democracy will prevail.