Democratic Gov. Wes Moore made history Wednesday, officially assuming office as Maryland’s first Black chief executive during a ceremony at the state’s capitol building in Annapolis.
But for Moore — the nation’s third Black governor and the only one currently serving — the road to the office was about more than breaking the glass ceiling.
“This journey has never been about making history,” said Moore, an Army veteran, author and former nonprofit director, during his inaugural address. “It’s about marching forward. Today is not an indictment of the past. Today is a celebration of our collective future.”
Moore was sworn in using two Bibles, one of which belonged to abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The new governor wasn’t Maryland’s only history-maker Wednesday: His lieutenant governor, Aruna Miller, became the state’s first woman of color and first immigrant to take on that role. And earlier this month, Anthony G. Brown became Maryland’s first Black attorney general, while Brooke Lierman became the first woman to serve as comptroller.
The son of a Jamaican immigrant, Moore ran on a pledge to “leave no one behind,” campaigning on a set of progressive policies such as raising the minimum wage, increasing clean energy initiatives and reforming education and policing — many of which he touched on during his address. Marylanders have been offered a number of “false choices,” Moore said, including the choice between “a competitive economy and an equitable one,” and people “feeling safe in their own community and feeling safe in their own skin.”
Moore swept the election in November, trouncing Republican challenger Dan Cox by 33 percentage points in a race for the seat left open by former Gov. Larry Hogan, who had met the state’s two-term limit. Democrats were whispering of a potential future presidential run for Moore before the 44-year-old even won the election, likening the political newcomer to former President Barack Obama, who aided Moore on the campaign trail.
Oprah Winfrey, who gave a rare endorsement of Moore, introduced him on Wednesday. With Moore, Winfrey said, “Maryland’s best days lie ahead.”
“And there’s so much more to come,” Winfrey added. “He’s just getting started.”
Moore’s speech included messages of hope and calls to end “toxic partisanship.”
“If we are divided, we cannot win. If we are united, we cannot lose,” Moore said as he closed his remarks. “Our time is now to build a state that for those who came before us, that they fought for. This is not a slogan. It is a fulfillment of a hope.”