As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday, the nation gave a collective sigh of relief. Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as the first Black, first Asian American, and first female vice president served as a reminder that our country is still on the path to becoming a “more perfect union.”
While many Black Americans rejoice in HBCUs and Black Greek fraternities and sororities’ long-overdue recognition, many still carry optimism tempered by an overwhelming desire for racial justice. Black Americans celebrate the efforts of democracy but are keenly aware that had Black protesters stormed the Capitol’s hallowed halls, numerous lives would be lost. Black Americans congratulate the new president’s radical choice of diversity but still carry a deep sense of trepidation from the former president’s choice to invoke the demons of white supremacy.
January 20, 2021, was a day of conflicting emotions; yet, we will, as Black Americans are asked to do for generations, appeal to the “better angels of our nature.” Let’s consider the bright side of the day’s events.
There was an impressive showing of support for the peaceful transfer of power. From top politicians, celebrities, and more all wanted to pay their respects with their presence. Among them were former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, former first lady Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and six Supreme Court Justices, including Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, who administered the oath of office for Kamala Harris. In lieu of Trump’s absence, former Vice President Mike Pence and wife, Karen Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz were in attendance.
Notable celebrities were Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem, Jennifer Lopez, singing renditions of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”, and husband, Alex Rodriguez, Amanda Gorman, the youngest-ever Inaugural Poet, who read a powerful piece of poetry, Garth Brooks and Rev. Silvester Beaman, a Delaware pastor, delivered blessings as well.
Kamala Harris Attire and More
As a sign of unity the new vice president wore a dress and jacket in a stunning purple hue both designed by Black designers, Christopher John Rogers, from South Carolina, and Sergio Hudson, from Baton Rouge. at the Capitol for inauguration.
In more traditional style, President Biden wore a Ralph Lauren suit and Dr. Biden wore an ocean blue wool tweed coat and dress by emerging American designer Alexandra O’Neil of Markarian.
Former first lady Michelle Obama nearly shut down the internet when she walking on the Inauguration platform with a deep, plum-colored monochrome outfit, also designed by Hudson.
Fany people, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wore purple – a color of unity. Several also wore monochrome, including Jennifer Lopez, Mr. Biden’s granddaughters and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wore a blue coat over a white dress.
Some other notable outfits were Harris’ stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, of turned many heads with her a plaid Miu Miu coat embellished with sparkling gems and designed by Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson and Lady Gaga’s red, white, and blue gown embellished with a gold dove carrying an olive branch and designed by Schiparelli.
Even Bernie Sanders’ mittens, made by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis, garnered him some attention.
The Message of Unity
Joe Biden has a truly profound challenge ahead of him: uniting a deeply fractured union. On Wednesday, he vowed to end the ‘uncivil war’ ina country reeling from a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans. With thousands of armed troops encircling the U.S. Capitol, this message couldn’t be more fitting.
“To overcome these challenges to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity,” he said in his inauguration speech.
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this – if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”
“I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans,” he said. “And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
As Black Americans look ahead to the first 100 days and onward to four years of a Biden administration, we move with subtle confidence. While encouraged by the diversity of Biden’s Cabinet nominees and his appointees, we cannot forget the tragic injustices of court battles lost in the fatal police shooting of unarmed Black Americans. The past four years have taken a toll on our society. The next four won’t be easy, but we stand, as always, ever faithful that better days are still to come.