By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

Governor Westley Watende Omari Moore has been officially sworn into office.

The first Black man to lead the state of Maryland was sworn-in at noon on Jan. 18 at the State House in Annapolis, Md., along with Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller.

After a spirited introduction by media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Moore delivered a moving address to the crowd.

“We are blocks away from the Annapolis docks, where so many enslaved people arrived in this country against their will. We are standing in front of a capitol building built by their hands,” said Moore. “We have made uneven and unimaginable progress since then. It is a history created by generations whose own history was lost, stolen, or never recorded. It is a shared history made by people who fought to build a state and a country that works for everybody.”

Moore’s speech addressed many of his plans to close the racial wealth gap, increase the minimum wage, create a service year option for high school graduates and much more.

Moore highlighted how Black boys are by far the most incarcerated in Maryland and how the state can become safer while also being fair and just to all. 

“We will work to change the inexcusable fact that Maryland incarcerates more Black boys between the ages of 18 and 24 than any other state,” said Moore. “People should not have to choose between feeling safe in their communities and in their skin. Many Marylanders have, understandably, lost faith in their government’s ability to keep them safe. We can build a police force with integrity and accountability and embrace that we can’t militarize ourselves to safety.”

The AFRO interviewed elected officials and Marylander residents to understand what this day meant to them and why they chose to attend.

“I came out because I’m excited for the first Black Governor of Maryland and the third Black governor of the United States,” said Beverly Judge, of Prince George’s County, Md. “Considering that Black people have gone from being enslaved in America to [holding] the highest office in the state of Maryland in 2023, is a big deal.”

Moore is only the third Black man to be elected governor in the United States of America. He follows in the footsteps of Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, who served from January 1990 to January 1994 and Deval Patrick, who led the state of Massachusetts  from January 2007 to January 2015 .

Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City-41) gave her reaction to the historic event.

“There’s a great mass of excitement here at the Maryland State House on this beautifully warm and sunny day,” said Sen. Carter. “We have a governor from Baltimore that has already expressed an interest in investing in Baltimore City people and communities that have been divested and ignored for many years.”

Sen. Mary Washington, a Democrat serving District 43 shared her excitement about Moore’s ability to lead.

Governor Wes Moore looks out on the crowd with his wife, Dawn, after being sworn into office on Jan. 18 in Annapolis, Md. (Photo by James Fields)

“I’m excited, just like everyone else, about this ceremony. You can feel the energy in the room,” said Sen.Washington. “Not only is Moore a Black man and a leader, but I believe he represents a new generation. Due to his age, he will bring a new perspective and I believe many community members have been waiting for someone to represent younger views in the Maryland government.”

Baltimore City Police Department Commissioner, Michael Harrison, was in attendance and supplied his thoughts on the celebration.

“So far, this has been a wonderful and historic day and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Commissioner Harrison. “There will be a forward progression for the state of Maryland and specifically for Baltimore City with Moore in office.”

Black people and Black culture were truly celebrated during this ceremony with performances by the Morgan State Choir and Bowie High School’s Marching Band, the Bulldogs.

Winfrey spoke to the crowd about her faith in the new governor, a man of courage with the will to make change– even if it is an uphill battle. Winfrey told of how Moore called her on Jan. 6, 2021, as the nation’s capital was being attacked, to say that he was running for the top seat in Maryland. 

“Moore has always loved and believed in our country and that it is worth fighting for,” she said. “I trust his leadership and want you to know that you can trust him too.”

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.

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