HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— This year’s inauguration is bittersweet for the hundreds of thousands of people who typically attend the ceremony to witness the transition of power and welcome in a new presidency.
Pandemic restrictions forced many Hampton Roads residents to cancel their trips to Washington, D.C., but the history-making moments were still celebrated safely at home.
Gaylene Kanoyton, President of the Hampton branch of the NAACP, attended both inaugurations of President Barack Obama and would have gone to D.C. again this year if it were possible.
“I remember in 2008, it was freezing cold… we were on the subway shoulder to shoulder, going up escalators shoulder to shoulder, but everyone was happy. We were looking out for each other," Kanoyton said.
This year’s ceremony isn’t ideal for her and many who had to watch the inauguration from home, but there were still moments to remember.
“I think that Inauguration Day is a sign, not only of peaceful transition, but also unity across the country,” Kanoyton said.
The swearing in of Vice President Kamala Harris marked an historic moment for this country. Witnessing the nation’s first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president is a powerful image for many women of color who aspire to walk through doors that are meant to keep them out.
Kanoyton says it was heartwarming enough to bring her to tears, and she never thought she would see a woman rise to the second-highest office in the country.
“For me, it shows a sign of, 'We’re moving forward, we’re becoming more inclusive.' We’re not there yet, but the country is becoming more inclusive in roles we never thought we could be in before.”
Another notable historic moment came as a young poet named Amanda Gorman took the stage. The first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate’s oration echoed the optimistic future for the country that many Americans envision in the years to come.
“The new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”