Wes Moore is sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor in Annapolis on Jan. 18. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
Wes Moore is sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor in Annapolis on Jan. 18. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller made history on Jan. 18, having officially been sworn in as Maryland’s new Democratic governor and lieutenant governor.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore waves alongside wife Dana during his inauguration as the state’s first Black governor in Annapolis on Jan. 18. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Following the official, private ceremony in the Senate Building with many electeds on hand, a more public ceremony was held outside of the State Capitol with thousands of attendees seated and standing there to take in a glimpse of the barrier-breaking moment. Moore is Maryland’s first Black governor and Miller is Maryland’s first Asian-American and first immigrant lieutenant governor.

While overlooking the Lawyers’ Mall monument in honor of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Moore openly reflected on Maryland’s rich Black history and spoke of his promises for what his administration will do for Maryland.

“We have made uneven and unimaginable progress since then, history created by generations of people whose own history was lost, stolen, or never recorded,” he said.

The pre-inaugural ceremony featured the 229th Army Band, a Polynesian music and dance group, and performances by the Bowie Bulldogs Marching Band and Clarksburg High School’s chamber singers. 

With thousands of attendees present to celebrate the day with roaring applause throughout the event, the swearing in began with a 19-gun salute and a jet flyover. 

The inauguration festivities were star-studded with local officials and national celebrities.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, whom Moore called a “Maryland girl at heart,” presented the new governor before his speech. Winfrey worked as a co-anchor on WJZ-TV in her 20s before breaking out into superstardom in Chicago. “What a joy to be back here in Maryland,” she said before explaining her path in the state. After moving from Nashville to Columbia, she found community and colleagues and opportunity in Maryland. 

“Maryland is where I figured it out. The eight years I lived here were some of the most significant years of my life,” said Winfrey, who even met her best friend, Gayle King, in Maryland.

Oprah Winfrey speaks at the inauguration ceremony for Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller in Annapolis on Jan. 18. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Winfrey first met Moore in 2010 while interviewing him about his best-selling book, “The Other Wes Moore,” and she was impressed by his wisdom, integrity and desire to serve. She closed by promising onlookers that just as she trusted his leadership and vision, they should as well.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder and Chelsea Clinton were also spotted at the inauguration. 

Elected officials were also present for the monumental event. Prince George’s Councilmembers Sydney Harrison (D- District 9) and Jolene Ivey (D- District 5), Delegate Julian Ivey (D- District 47A), Greenbelt Councilmember Ric Gordon, and Laurel Councilmember Martin Mitchell were among those spotted walking into the swearing in. 

Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee Vice Chair Antwan Brown, who had a leadership role for Moore during the general election, said he came out because he “wanted to be part of history,” and Councilmember Harrison said he is particularly looking forward to what Moore and his administration will do for equity and inclusion in government. 

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) served as master of ceremonies. 

Some of the loudest applause of Pittman’s opener were his account of his endorsement and Moore’s rise during the election. During his speech, Pittman gave an honest reckoning of his family history: one of his ancestors, Dr. Stewart, was an Anne Arundel politician and tobacco planter who made his fortune during slavery. 

During the celebration, Moore said the racial wealth gap, school funding gaps and environmental racism are among some of the many challenges he and his administration hope to rectify. Building on Winfrey’s message, he pledges to ensure that Maryland better utilizes the opportunities on hand.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, running mate of Gov. Wes Moore, speaks at the duo’s inauguration ceremony in Annapolis on Jan. 18. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Moore’s tenure as the first Black governor of Maryland has begun, and many residents proclaimed they hold great pride with high expectations for his administration. Throughout the day, shuttles brought Marylanders from the Navy Stadium parking lot to the inauguration and many Black elders came from across the state to witness history. For those who had witnessed the intense segregation and racism of Maryland in the 1960s and prior, this was a particularly turning moment. 

Maryland’s first Black governor is beginning his administration with a Democratic supermajority in both the State House and State Senate, which will make enacting his agenda and getting his cabinet picks confirmed easier. Moore has selected Black nominees for the Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Veterans Affairs positions, and has created a new office of Opioid Recovery which will be headed by Hagerstown Mayor Emily Keller (D). 

Moore pledged to introduce a $15 minimum wage, a service year option for high school graduates, expanding clean energy, and simultaneously address violent crime and mass incarceration. 

Since being sworn in, Moore has held meetings with Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) and U.S. Attorney Erek Barron (D), both of whom are also the first Black men to hold their position. Moore’s first orders in office have been to implement new ethical standards for state employees and highlighting the high vacancy rate in state government positions left following Hogan’s departure. He has also pledged additional funds for the Kirwan Commission to fund new specialists in schools. 

For those traveling into Maryland, state signs are now adorned with the new governor’s name and his rallying call that he learned and adopted while serving in the U.S. Army: “Leave No One Behind.”

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