By Kelcey Norris
In his inaugural speech Wednesday, Jan. 20 at the United States Capitol in Washington D.C., 46th President of the United States Joe Biden celebrated democracy and called the nation to action “to come together in common love that defines us as Americans.”
“Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness,” Biden said. “With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus.”
Standing to his right, Kamala Harris made history as the first female, first Black and South Asian vice president of the United States.
Biden signed 17 executive orders a few hours after his inauguration, addressing the coronavirus pandemic as well as other issues. Other orders stopped the funding of the border wall in Mexico and started the process to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II,” Biden said in his speech. “Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”
Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich, a professor in the politics and international relations department at Youngstown State University, said her favorite moment in the inauguration speech was Biden’s emphasis on nationwide unity.
“I really appreciated how President Biden was talking about how he wanted to unify even with the people who did not vote for him. He said he wanted to make policies based on science and data,” she said.
Biden’s first priority seems to be vaccinating the nation against COVID-19.
“I like the fact that he acknowledged the pandemic and that over 400,000 people have died. They need to figure out an effective plan to get the vaccine out,” Jackson said. “There were also some treaties that were undone, like the Paris Climate Agreement, so rejoining some of our allies. That was also part of his speech, not only reunifying us but also to get us back working with other countries.”
Biden’s administration is also focused on policies surrounding student loan forgiveness and legalization of marijuana at a national level.
“I’ve been telling people to look at the plan closely,” Jackson said. “You won’t get all of your student loan forgiven, but it’ll be about $10,000 and up to $50,000 of that, which will be great … but you’ll still have loans that you’ll have to pay, there’s no way they can just forgive all the loans.”
Harris’ position as the new vice president, according to Jackson, has inspired the slogan “My VP looks like me” in the Black community. Many of Biden’s other administration nominations are making history, like the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine, who would be the first transgender woman confirmed by the Senate in history.
“Representation matters, and having Kamala Harris as the first African American, the first Pacific-Islander VP, will be great for a lot of young women and African Americans,” Jackson said. “This administration is trying to be a lot more diverse, a lot more representative of the people that they serve.”
President Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States Jan. 20. During his first term in office as Vice President with the Obama administration, Biden visited Youngstown State University’s campus.