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Commentary: Biden’s Inauguration Marked by Swag and Magic of Black Folks

One of the Blackest moments witnessed that day was when Harris and former President Barack Obama greeted each other with double fist bumps.




Amanda Gorman, Courtesy Twitter

Black girl magic was on display big time at the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, and brothers were banging, too.

From the ceremony beginning in the late morning, to the virtual celebrations that went into the evening, Black people showed up and showed out.

By and large, the Black community began to breathe a little easier once Joseph R. Biden put his hand on the family Bible and swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and became president.

But the swooning started earlier when Michelle Obama walked down the interior steps of the Capitol sporting an ankle-length maroon coat over a matching jumpsuit, an uber-bling gold buckle at her waist by Black designer Sergio Hudson.

She was followed by Kamala Harris, resplendent in purple, which was the color favored by the late Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the House of Representatives and to run for the nation’s office. Black designers Christopher John Roberts and Hudson created Harris outfit.

Harris also wore a strand of pearls, emblematic of her sorority, the famed AKA.

And, in solidarity, while they watched the televised proceedings, Black girls and women all over the country wore them, too. (Congresswoman Barbara Lee wore Chisholm’s, which were given to her by the Chisholm’s goddaughter.)

One of the Blackest moments witnessed that day was when Harris and former President Barack Obama greeted each other with double fist bumps.

Observers and newscasters were moved to see that Eugene Goodman, the Capitol Police officer who diverted the mob away from the Senate floor on January 6, was assigned to Harris’ protection detail. Goodman, who has been promoted to deputy House sergeant at arms, swagged in tan camel hair with a blue Gucci scarf.

The pledge of allegiance was recited by Andrea Hall, a Fire Captain from South Fulton, Ga., who also performed it in sign language, a nod to her father who is deaf.

But it was the 22-year-old, Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S. Amanda Gorman, who brought the house down.

Small in stature, accompanied to the inauguration by her mother, Gorman assumed her place at the podium with the poise and grace of someone well beyond her years. Elaborately braided, her hair was piled high on her head, gold highlights gleaming, a red headband placed like a crown.

Her Prada coat was a bright yellow, Gorman’s favorite color and coincidentally another of Chisholm’s. Her earrings were a gift from Oprah Winfrey and she wore a ring shaped like a caged bird, memorializing the first Black woman to write and perform a poem for a presidential inauguration, Maya Angelou, in 1993.

And then Gorman began to recite her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb,’ where she alluded to the events of January 6 at the Capitol. Its final line was enough to make you cry: not with fury or despair, but hope. “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

The Rev. Dr. Silvester Beamon of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., gave the benediction.

As if that wasn’t enough Black magic for the day, then came Howard University’s Showtime Band, which accompanied Harris, their most famous alum, on her ride from the inauguration to the White House.

The drum major’s strut was subtle, the girls’ red outfits cut high on the thigh, flag bearers masterful, and the drumline syncopation distinctively, soulfully swinging. As usual.

About 100 yards from the White House, where her day would continue with swearing in three senators including her replacement, Harris walked with her family. They included her husband’s children and her sister Maya Harris and Harris’ niece, Meena Harris, who was accompanied by her partner and two daughters who slayed in spotted jackets.

In the evening virtual concert, John Legend invoked the memory of Nina Simone, his cover of ‘Feeling Good’ showing that he was, in fact, feeling good.

Near the close of the evening, Demi Lovato led a group of online singers in Bill Wither’s swinging tune, ‘A Lovely Day,’ which, of course, and at last, it had been.