Today is New Year’s Day for me. The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris brings a tremendous opportunity for our country to heal from the past four years and it provides me with hope for our future. On the morning of this historic presidential inauguration, I feel moved to share excerpts from “On the Pulse of Morning”, the poem that Maya Angelou delivered at President Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in January, 1993. It inspired me then, and it inspires me even more today.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
We need this hope, this vision. 2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year. 2021 has already brought more crisis and chaos — this time in Washington DC, the likes of which we have never seen in our nation’s Capitol. But today we can turn the page. It doesn’t mean we can ignore the seeds of racism and white supremacy that stem from our country’s original sin of slavery. These seeds have continued to grow like terrible weeds through the ensuing decades. But new leadership brings new hope. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris bring a depth and breadth of experience that can help us heal. Kamala Harris will be the first woman, Black and Asian-American to ever hold the second-in-command position, just one step away from the presidency. She embodies the diversity that is America. Working as Joe Biden’s partner in the Executive Branch, they as a team can take an antiracist, humanitarian approach to all of their work.
That includes addressing the pandemic. The pandemic plagues all of us: young and old, rich and poor, Black, brown and white. The degree of the effect varies, but there’s not one of us in America who hasn’t been affected. We should unite in our pursuit of eradicating it. With new leadership, we can.
We can and we shall eradicate the pandemic. We may not be able to eradicate the weeds of racism and white supremacy, but we can do far more to contain them. We must not sit back. We must redeploy the energy we poured into resisting Trump and his followers over the last four years. After taking some moments to recharge, I want to join with you in rededicating ourselves to the cause of racial justice and healthcare for all. Let’s do our work with renewed vigor in 2021.
It starts today. Push aside those terrible images of January 6th, 2021. Don’t let them destroy you or hold you back. In the words of Maya Angelou,
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply