A new chapter in American history began Wednesday, Jan. 20, and watching that new beginning brought Michiganders to tears.
WASHINGTON, DC—The inauguration Wednesday, Jan. 20 looked a little different from other inaugurations with the audience largely represented by American flags instead of people. But a new president assumed office nonetheless. Following the ceremony at the US Capitol, Joe Biden has become the president of the United States and Kamala Harris has become the vice president of the United States.
Michigan Reps. Kyra Bolden and Mari Manoogian took over The Gander’s Instagram and covered their inauguration festivities, and Michiganders across the state reacted with a similar energized optimism.
Michiganders felt an outpouring of emotion at the event.
“Got to watch history being made with the little boys I nanny today,” said Sammi Cadotte from Farmington. “They didn’t understand why I was cheering and crying but they joined in the cheering … It was all worth it today seeing Madam Vice President Harris being sworn in and then President Biden.”
Other Michiganders expressed a similar emotional outpouring watching the ceremony.
“I found myself unexpectedly and literally moved to tears during the inauguration today,” said Meredith Shearer from Holland. “Not just by Biden’s beautiful forward-looking, unifying speech, or by the young poet laureate who spoke so brilliantly, but just as much by an unexpected, and enormous sense of relief that we once again have a president, a public servant, who cares about the people, and who really and truly desires to serve… It will be a tremendous struggle, to be certain. But for today, let’s all take a very long, collective, deep breath and know that we are once again the right road and taking our first steps back to an America that stands up for all Americans, all the time.”
Those kinds of sentiments were expressed by activists and leaders as well. The advocacy group Progress Michigan, long critical of Trump, hailed the swearing in of a new leader as a restoration of benevolent leadership in a statement to The ‘Gander.
“Today, along with folks across the country, we celebrate the return of empathy, kindness and conscience to the White House,” said Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott. “We arrived at this moment thanks to the hard work of many and we are proud of what we were able to accomplish together. The election and swearing in of America’s first Black, Southeast Asian, female vice president shows a current of progress flowing through our country, one that will help guide us toward equitable representation in all levels of government. No doubt there are challenges ahead and we won’t soon forget those who sought to lie and bully their way into power, but today is a good day and hopefully the first step toward healing for this nation.”
A few Michigan leaders witnessed the event in person.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who removed herself from consideration both for the vice presidency and the cabinet and now is being eyed for a leadership position in the Democratic Party, traveled to DC to attend the dramatically scaled-down inauguration.
“The country is ready for a leader who listens to medical experts to lead our country’s COVID-19 response and works on behalf of hard working Americans,” Whitmer told reporters. “I am honored to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and ready to begin working closely with each of them to fight this virus, save lives, and put the country back on track.”
After a day of celebration, Michiganders say their work to better America does not end because Donald Trump left the White House.
Activist Bridget Huff told The ‘Gander after Biden’s election that “there is no time off when lives are on the line,” pledging to continue advocating for her causes to the new president following Wednesday’s inauguration as vigorously as she did to the last.
“Our priorities have not changed, and neither has our resolve,” she said. “The fight for affordable housing, childcare, worker’s rights, indigenous sovereignty and safety, Black Lives Matter, carceral change, LGBTQ+ rights, COVID financial relief, education system reform, debt relief, stopping the bans, and so much more continues.”