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'Our time is right now': Wes Moore sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor

'Our time is right now': Wes Moore sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor
'Our time is right now': Wes Moore sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor 04:25

BALTIMORE — Wes Moore became Maryland's 63rd governor when he was sworn into office Wednesday afternoon at the State House in Annapolis.

The new governor, replacing two-term governor Larry Hogan, put his hand on the Frederick Douglass Bible and took his oath for Marylanders.

Moore defeated Republican Delegate Dan Cox in November's general election.

He was introduced by his friends, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Lt. Colonel Jaime Martinez.

Moore then delivered a speech, thanking those who helped him become the state's first Black governor, and detailed his focus as he takes office.

Moore said poverty is an issue his administration must address. He spoke of child poverty, homelessness, racial wealth gap, and raising the minimum wage.  

"Maryland should not be 43rd in unemployment, or 44th in the cost of doing business," Moore said. "We do not have to choose between a competitive economy and an equitable one."

Crime has been another top issue in Maryland, especially in Baltimore City.

"We will work with communities from West Baltimore to Westminster to share data so we can keep violent offenders off our streets. And we can welcome people who have earned a second chance back to our communities," Moore said.

Moore also pledged that Maryland will generate 100 percent clean energy by 2035.

He also said his goal is to form unity among Democrats and Republicans within the General Assembly, coming to a common goal. He will have Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.  

"Maryland, our time is right now," Moore said. "Our time is now to build a state that those who came before us fought for, a state that leaves no one behind."

But one of his biggest platform issues is to be united as a state and be inclusive and equitable.

"If we are divided we can't win, but if we are united, we can't lose," Moore said. "Now, to work together, it means we must also get to know each other again. To come together across lines of difference –– both real and perceived –– to build uncommon coalitions."

Moore shared an image on social media of the thousands of people in attendance.

"This is our state in all its beauty," Moore said. "And this is who I'll fight for every single day that I have the honor of being your governor."  

Moore to take oath on historic Bible

Moore, Maryland's first Black governor, took his oath on the Frederick Douglass Bible and his grandfather's Bible.

"Douglass was a proud Marylander and as your next governor, I will work every day to carry on his legacy of fighting for justice and equality," Moore said.

Douglass was born into slavery and escaped to freedom and led an abolitionist group. 

The Bible was a gift to Douglass in 1889 from the congregation of Washington's Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the District. 

It was presented to Douglass as he prepared to travel to Haiti to serve as President Benjamin Harrison's United States resident minister and consul general until July 1891, according to the National Park Service.  

Moore's historic rise to governor

Moore is an Army veteran and former nonprofit executive. He has lived in Baltimore with his wife Dawn since 2016. They have two children Mia and James.

He's a Johns Hopkins graduate, a Rhodes scholar, and a soldier who fought in Afghanistan. He worked as an investment banker, and ran Robin Hood, a non-profit organization. 

That doesn't have to be the path for every student – it wasn't my path. I joined the Army when I was 17 years old. I went to a two-year college.  And I think things worked out pretty well," Moore said.  

"He started and eventually sold a small business called BridgeEdU, which, according to his website, "reinvents freshman year of college for underserved students to increase their likelihood of long-term success." 

During his four years as CEO of the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation, the organization distributed more than $600 million to help impoverished families.

Moore has written a number of books, including "The Other Wes Moore," a memoir that juxtaposes his life with that of another man with the same name and a similar background who ended up serving a life sentence for murder.

Aruna Miller makes history as Maryland Lt. Governor

Aruna Miller is the first woman of color elected Maryland's Lt. Governor.

She moved to the United States from India with her parents when she was seven years old.

Miller is married to her husband, David, and they have three adult daughters.

She got involved in politics volunteering for numerous local and even national campaigns including John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004

Miller is a former State Delegate for District 15 which represents part of Montgomery County. She also served for 25 years at the Department of Transportation in Montgomery County.

Moore's top issues as he takes oath

Moore told WJZ his top three priorities are equity, the environment and keeping Maryland competitive. He also said safety and unifying residents are big on his platform.

Baltimore City had 333 homicides last year, surpassing 300 for the eighth year in a row.

"Nothing is more important than that," he said. "Because if you really want to focus on economic growth, if a person does not feel safe, they will not stay. And if a person does not feel safe, they will not come. And so that means we've got to ensure that as a state government, we're working in partnership with local jurisdictions, federal partners, community organizations, to ensure that people have a better chance of feeling safe in their own communities, in their own homes and in their own skin."  

Moore joins small group as Black governor

Moore is only the fifth Black person - all men - to serve as governor in US history. Only two Black governors before Moore were elected to their positions. 

According to an article by The Hill, these are the only other five other Black men to serve as state governors. 

Democrat L. Douglas Wilder was the first Black person to be elected governor in 1990. He served one term in Virginia before leaving office to become a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Democrat Deval Patrick was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2007 and served two terms. He is now a professor at Harvard University.

David Paterson, the only other contemporary Black governor, served as New York's governor when he finished the remainder of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's (D) term from March 2008 to January 2011. 

Before those three officials, only two other Black governors served. Both can be traced back to the time of Reconstruction.  

In 1868, Republican Oscar Dunn, the first Black lieutenant governor ever elected, served as acting governor of Louisiana when Gov. Henry Clay Warmoth (R) was injured in 1871. Dunn became the nation's first acting governor. 

When Dunn died of suspicious causes in 1871, Republican P.B.S. Pinchback, president of the state's Senate at the time, assumed the position of lieutenant governor. That changed in 1872 when Warmoth had impeachment charges brought against him. Pinchback assumed office and became the country's second Black governor, though he served only from Dec. 9, 1872, to Jan. 13, 1873. 

The country has never had a Black female governor. 

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