Flanked by family and face masks on the morning of January 20, 2021, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were respectively sworn into the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States. The ceremonies marked many firsts: Vice President Harris is the first female, black, and South Asian to hold the nation’s second-highest office, and poet-activist Amanda Gorman, the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate, became the youngest inaugural poet in history.
In his inaugural speech, Biden focused on the daunting task of unifying a fractured America. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this—bringing American people together, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me in this cause,” said Biden. In the hours following the inauguration, Biden took several executive actions, such as halting construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico and re-joining the Paris climate accords, that challenged Trump’s legacy.
The inauguration came just two weeks after insurrectionists stormed the very Capitol grounds that hosted the inauguration day ceremonies and just one day after the United States exceeded 400,000 deaths attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. President Biden was inaugurated in the shadow of not just the capitol dome, but also those of a pandemic, racial injustice, and domestic terrorism. Only time will tell if his presidency can be the light at the end of the tunnel.