Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America just before noon EST today, marking a historic day for Americans, not just because we are welcoming a new president, but also because we are welcoming Vice President Kamala Harris as our first female vice president as well as the first African American vice president, the first Southeast Asian vice president and the first vice president of Caribbean descent. The inauguration ceremony was one full of both solemnity and hopefulness following Donald Trump’s presidency noted by its hateful and racist rhetoric that was attributed to the Capitol riot.
The much-anticipated ceremony included performances by Puerto Rican megastar Jennifer Lopez, 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman, award-winning country singer Garth Brooks and pop sensation Lady Gaga singing the national anthem. One of the most significant moments was when Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who is of Puerto Rican descent, presided over the swearing in of Vice President Harris.
The day’s events continued with a mostly virtual inauguration parade that featured a high school mariachi band from Las Vegas as well as viral skateboarding sensation Nathan Apodaca who is of Mexican descent, amongst many other celebrities and notable figures. Read on to learn more about some of the highlights from this historic day.
Respect & Reverence
Due to the pandemic as well as security threats in the wake of the siege on the Capitol just two weeks ago, the inauguration ceremony involved far fewer people, but as much pomp and circumstance as possible was implemented. In respect of the seriousness of the pandemic, social distancing measures were taken and guests were essentially limited to participants and their families, National Guard soldiers and members of Congress and their personal guests. The Capitol building and surrounding area were festively decorated in American flags, creating quite a powerful image alongside everyone wearing masks.
Vice President Harris’ Swearing In
In an incredibly meaningful moment in history for women of color in America, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, administered the vice presidential oath to Harris. Though their time at the podium together was brief, the symbolism undeniably impactful. The swearing in was performed with two Bibles, one of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.
J.Lo Stole the Show
In what couldn’t have been a more fitting display of the ideals that Biden and Harris have professed, J.Lo took to the stage to perform a mashup of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”, throwing in a her hit “Let’s Get Loud.” Jennifer was visibly emotional from the second she stepped on stage and the gravity of a Latina from the Bronx singing lyrics like “this land was made for you and me” in a crystal clear voice could not be denied. The most touching moment though was between the songs when the Nuyorican stopped singing and said part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish, “Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos.”
“The Hill We Climb”
On a day for the history books, @TheAmandaGorman delivered a poem that more than met the moment. Young people like her are proof that "there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it." pic.twitter.com/mbywtvjtEH
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 20, 2021
In another history-making moment 22-year-old Los Angeles native Amanda Gorman became the youngest poet to recite at a presidential inauguration in the U.S. Her powerful words resonated widely and drew incredible emotion from viewers across the country, quickly leading to her performance going viral. “And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished,” Amanda powerful words cemented her place in America’s history.
The Obamas attended the inauguration of their good friend and President Barack Obama’s former vice president, together cutting a stunning and powerful figure of unity and love. Michelle’s outfit however, has also taken on a life of its own on the Internet. She looked absolutely regal in a gorgeous purple ensemble designed by Sergio Hudson, a Black designer from South Carolina who also designed the skirt suit the vice president wore for her historic swearing in. Perhaps not coincidentally, the color purple is said to symbolize bipartisanship.
In observance of COVID-19 protocols the inaugural parade was scaled down, with many of the festivities happening virtually. Notably a high school mariachi band from Las Vegas called Mariachi Joya was invited to perform during the parade, which followed the president as he made his way from the wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery to his new home at The White House for the first time. The band’s inclusion is a welcome sign of the unity the president so vocally stands for.