We knew that Black America would be well-represented on the Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black person and woman to hold the position. But the ceremony ended up highlighting Black folks and culture way more than anyone could have predicted. From powerful words to stunning fashion, here are the seven blackest moments from the inauguration.
1. Officer Eugene Goodman’s “What’s Gucci with you?” facial expression
Eugene Goodman escorted Harris moments before she was sworn in. Viewers who had previously only seen the Capitol Police officer facing down domestic insurgents at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, remarked on Goodman's appearance. Two things stood out most: His Gucci scarf and his piercing, “Who wants some?” expression as he looked over the crowd. He was focused as ever on keeping the peace.
Oh. He stay frosty. pic.twitter.com/eXmIsFRZMe
— CJ Johnson (@cjjohnsonjr) January 20, 2021
2. Former President Barack Obama’s congratulations to Harris
Obama’s fist-bump greeting to Harris made a splash on social media, as Blavity previously reported. The gesture was not only a COVID-friendly acknowledgment but it was also a subtle nod to Black culture. And it was possibly a subtle “forget you” to haters who criticized both Obama and Harris for similar greetings in the past. The moment was dripping with meaning for everyone to take in.
And let's not forget when Barack Obama gave Michelle a fist bump on the 2008 campaign trail it was so rarely seen outside of the black community some sections of the media called it a "terrorist fist jab". Black people saw it and said "they're one of us" https://t.co/yYrt2XU8uO
— Marcus Ryder MBE (@marcusryder) May 28, 2020
Add in Obama’s words to Harris, “I’m so proud of you,” and you have an image that Black folks are printing out to have framed.
The FIRST Black president and FIRST Black Vice President sharing a fist bump. Yep, I’m framing this. ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/pVnVknNT1s
— WJ???????? (@___illwill) January 20, 2021
3. The Harris family’s shoe game remains on point
Many inauguration viewers highlighted Harris’ inauguration wardrobe by Black designers, as Blavity previously reported. But as Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke during the ceremonies, eagle-eyed viewers also marveled over a pair of Air Jordan Dior 1’s descending the stairs behind her.
We got a pair of Dior 1s at the inauguration! ???? pic.twitter.com/8y31C9c393
— Complex Sneakers (@ComplexSneakers) January 20, 2021
Turns out those decked out feet belong to Nikolas Ajagu, one of Facebook’s highest-ranking Black executives who's married to Harris' niece, Meena.
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) January 20, 2021
When asked about her husband’s footwear choice on Twitter, Meena used few words to confirm that the sneakers were real.
.@meenaharris is Nik wearing the Dior 1s?
— Bobby Hundreds (@bobbyhundreds) January 20, 2021
— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) January 20, 2021
4. Michelle Obama keeps on slayin' the game
While the news and social media scrutinized the outfits of most of the major players in the inauguration ceremonies, former First Lady Michelle Obama stood out. Her expertly laid hairstyle won praise for the Becoming author and her stylist, Yene Damtew.
me tryna figure out who laid michelle’s hair like that pic.twitter.com/HAZdU6fOeP
— real goth girl shit (@afro_goth) January 20, 2021
**raises hand** ???? https://t.co/mwRl9gwPVI
— Yene Damtew (@yenedamtew) January 20, 2021
Others, including MSNBC’s Joy Reid, noted her stunning plum outfit, designed by Black South Carolina native Sergio Hudson.
— Joy WE VOTED!! WEAR A MASK!! Reid ????) (@JoyAnnReid) January 20, 2021
5. Amanda Gorman spoke to America’s soul
Biden garnered praise for his inaugural address, which called for unity and projected hope as he acknowledged the unprecedented challenges the country must face on its road ahead. However, it was the poem by 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet ever to recite her work at a presidential inauguration, that touched hearts and pierced our souls.
Gorman's description of “a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting from one,” had Black people across the country in their feelings. When she continued, “that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is ‘perfect.’ We are striving to forge a union with purpose,” Gorman may have given the country a new motto.
6. The Rev. Sylvester Beaman’s Black church benediction
With a ceremony punctuated by so many Black moments, it only made sense that a Black pastor would close things out. The task fell to the Rev. Sylvester Beaman, Ph.D., pastor of Delaware’s Bethel AME Church, and a longtime friend of the Biden family. Beaman gave a prayer laced with the Black church’s appreciation for grace, love, and justice and the acknowledgment that all three must go together.
Hitting everything from racial justice to economic inequality to environmental responsibility, Beaman used scripture and American history to set a spiritual and political agenda for the next four years.
7. The vice president has her own theme music
Now, it goes without saying that Howard University was going to show out as one of their own officially assumed the role of the nation's vice president. The university's Showtime Marching Band accompanied Harris during the parade to the White House. This is not the first time the HBCU's band has been involved in a presidential inauguration, but Harris’ history with the school made this one special.
WATCH: Howard University's Showtime Marching Band escorts Vice President Harris to the White House for her first time as the 49th vice president of the United States. pic.twitter.com/zPfbGBsYFq
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 20, 2021
With Harris in the White House, the country’s most diverse cabinet ever in Washington, D.C., and Black supporters forming a key part of the coalition that got them all to their current positions, we expect plenty more Black moments from the new administration.