A cloudy overcast and partial rain couldn’t stop hundreds from occupying the War Memorial Building for Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s Inaugural Ceremony.
Baltimore’s 46th Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke served as Master of Ceremonies amongst a stage of accomplished individuals who have contributed to the progress of the state.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh delivers an address during her inauguration ceremony inside the War Memorial Building in Baltimore, Dec. 6. Seated behind Mayor Pugh are outgoing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Judge Shirley Watts of the Maryland Court of Appeals, 46th Mayor of Baltimore and President of University of Baltimore, Kurt L. Schmoke, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings and Governor Lawrence J. Hogan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A conundrum of harmonizing voices bellowed through the War Memorial building, as Morgan State University’s choir performed the National Anthem. Rev. Dr. Harold A. Carter Jr. of New Shiloh Baptist Church led the room in a prayer, not only over the incoming mayor, but the city as a whole.
“We’re believing that the city will move forward,” said Carter Jr., as grunts of approval made dents in the silence of the prayer.
The loud roar of the unified “Amen” at the conclusion of the prayer shook the flame perched atop the torch in the center of the room.
Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. received great applause as he approached the podium to shout praises and show solidarity with Mayor Pugh.
“I know first hand that Mayor Pugh is a fierce advocate for the people of this community,” said Hogan “Maryland is stronger when our state and local leaders work together.”
Harping on the inclement weather, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski lightened the mood with jokes, thanking Mayor Pugh for moving the ceremony out of the rain.
“She will be a fantastic mayor, she already made the executive decision to move this inside” said Mikulski to great laughter.
Several speakers, including Baltimore House Del. Curt S. Anderson and Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young gave warm welcomes to the city’s incoming Mayor.
Morgan State’s choir returned to center stage for an encore performance. The choir opened with rapper Common and signer John Legend’s “Glory” from the 2014 movie “Selma” soundtrack. The group closed with the timeless ode of “God Bless America”.
Baltimore resident and Congressman Elijah Cummings shared warm memories and words of enlightenment. Cummings cited the unrest in the city after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. Cummings declared that Pugh sung the gospel hymn “This Little Light of Mine” to the unruly crowd of teens at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenue.
“God has brought you at this moment to shine a light on our great city” said Cummings.
The Honorable Shirley M. Watts of the Maryland Court of Appeals approached the podium to swear in Mayor Pugh, as the flickering lights from cameras illuminated the stage. Journalists and residents alike live-streamed via Facebook to broadcast the iconic moment.
The crowd shared another bellowing laugh as Pugh mistakenly placed her left hand on the bible during the swearing in. Upon completion of the oath, the deafening combination of cheers and applause rang through the room. For more than five minutes, Pugh addressed the crowd. She began by thanking Gov. Hogan and discussing plans for the duo to take Baltimore’s issues national.
“I’ve already prepared my letter for you to go with me to Washington D.C., to deliver to the next President of the United States, Trump.”
Addressing concerns by the everyday citizens in attendance, Pugh declared her full attention and devotion to change.
“We know that people choose cities for two specific reasons, they want great schools and low crime rates, and we are committed to doing that.” Said Pugh.
Pugh addressed representatives of Harford, Baltimore and Prince George’s County, showing solidarity in the bettering of the state of Maryland.
“We must continue to work together, because what happens to Baltimore happens to the rest of the state.”
Pugh thanked exiting Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, commending her for her service and progression of the city.
“I commit to you Stephanie Rawlings Blake, that the work that you’ve done will not be forgotten,” said Pugh “That when we talk about the 40,000 boarded up houses that were here when you got here and know that we are down to 15,000, which the city houses, that the city owns.”
Lastly, Pugh addressed her alma mater, Morgan State University to much applause, citing the “cheerleaders” seated front row.
“I was a cheerleader at Morgan State University, and I’ll be the greatest cheerleader that this city will ever have.” said Pugh.
Pugh closed by mocking President-Elect Donald Trump, declaring to “Make Baltimore Great Again.”
Pugh’s brother, James Crump, took time to reflect on the feeling of having his sister become Baltimore City’s 50th Mayor.
“We’re very proud of her, she’s worked tirelessly to do very much for Baltimore, the community, the streets and schools,” said Crump “I believe she will be a proven mayor in the future to come.”
Following the ceremony, officials and residents shared a light meal, while enjoying a performance from OrchKids- The Baltimore City Orchestra for Kids.
On Dec. 5, Mayor-Elect Pugh announced the first official appointments to her new administration. She appointed Tisha Edwards as Chief of Staff, Peter Hammen as Chief of Operations, Jim Smith as Chief of Strategic Alliances, Karen Stokes as Director of Government Relations and Anthony McCarthy as Director of Communications.