Traditions broken, history made at 59th presidential inauguration


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

46th President of the United States Joe Biden points at the audience while leaving Inauguration.

The inauguration of President Joe Biden was vastly different from his predecessors. Considering the recent U.S. Capitol riots, rapidly spreading pandemic, upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, and members of Congress who were pushing for a delay to Biden’s inauguration, this was an inauguration that will go down in history.

Freshman Lily King had concerns about the safety of Washington, D.C. for the inauguration, but predicted that the Capitol police would be better prepared for violence that could occur. “I think that security is going to be better prepared. They have already built several safety measures like fences and walls and I also think that a lot more police will be there,” King said before the inauguration.

Republican members of Congress, especially those who were on the inauguration planning committee, attempted to block the inauguration of Joe Biden, with claims of election fraud and missing votes. Sophomore Chid Aniagboso believes that these politicians tried blocking the inauguration because “either Trump has something on them that could end their career or his presidency is benefitting them greatly so they don’t want that to end.”

Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United by Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, placing his hand on a 127-year-old Bible that has been passed down throughout his family. In Biden’s Inaugural Address, he discussed topics of American unity, recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic and its detrimental effect on the American people, racial injustice and more. “But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” Biden said.

Former Senator of California Kamala Harris, the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian person to become vice president, was sworn in by the first Latina Supreme Court Judge, Sonia Sotomayor, on Jan. 20. Harris is also the first graduate of a Historically Black College to hold this position.

For the first time since 1869, the outgoing president did not attend their successor’s inauguration and other passing-of-the-torch traditions. Trump did continue the tradition of leaving a letter for his successor, however by the time Biden was sworn in, Trump had arrived at Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, FL, according to AP News. When entering the Marine One helicopter, Trump said “It has been very special. And I just want to say goodbye. But hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye. We’ll see each other soon.”

Harvard graduate and poet Amanda Gorman delivered a poem discussing the topics of progress, unity, freedom and more in her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Gorman discussed her own personal experience and progress when she called this place and moment “a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.”