Can a Biden-Harris administration deliver unity? 

Four people in masks wave.
Left to right: Doug Emhoff, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images file

Whenever the United States elects a new president, it’s a fresh start for the country. At Wednesday’s inauguration, the sense of new beginnings was even more pronounced. 

Kamala Harris took the oath as vice president as the first woman and first woman of color elected to the national office. She steps into her role at a time of heightened calls for racial justice but also increased public displays of white supremacy. 

A week after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, President Joe Biden started off his inaugural speech saying the day was not about his triumph — it was about the triumph of democracy.  He called on Americans to unite and face a cascade of challenges — a deadly virus, an economic slump, climate crisis and deep division. 

He talked about the need to disagree without resorting to violence and he called on everyone to help repair, restore and heal the country. His vision was echoed in the verses written for the occasion and recited by youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

but what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms 

Host Angela Davis talked with two community leaders and listeners about the inauguration and what comes next. 

Guests 

  • Suzanne Rivera is president of Macalester College in St. Paul.

  • The Rev. Elijah McDavid is pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Use the audio player above to listen to the conversation.

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How Minnesotans are feeling after the inauguration

Like I was four years ago, I’m cautiously optimistic for what we’ve got coming. I was frankly, fairly disappointed. … I was neither a [Hillary] Clinton voter or a [Donald] Trump voter four years ago, and I was not a Biden voter or a Trump voter this time. But I’m cautiously optimistic because I felt like yesterday’s address didn’t necessarily pose any wedges between two sides. I hope both sides will try and adhere to trying to work together even if they’re not necessarily in full agreement.

— Ed from Hallock, Minn.

I am so pleased to have a new president and vice president and I have been worried about our country for a long time. I fought for our country in Vietnam, and I am sick of people hating each other and using meaningless reasons like skin color, gender or religion or any of those such things. So I want to reach out. But I don’t know how to do that.

— Byron from Chaska, Minn.

Optimistic, hopeful and relieved the last four years are over. We now have a president that will work for all of us. There aren’t real Americans — and fake Americans. There may be traditionalists and futurists but we all belong. We are a country that began to start anew and we will keep doing that over and over.

— Barb from St. Paul

A lot of young people, like myself (I'm 23) have really not felt patriotic in the face of economic injustice, racial inequality, and a lack of concern for climate change, and a general lack of empathy. But yesterday, the message of empathetic change really struck a chord with me and I found myself feeling proud of what America could be.

— Zachariah from St. Paul

I thought the POTUS speech was excellent and listening to the press briefing was a breath of fresh air without the combativeness of the Trump era. I'm optimistic about the next four years but also mourning what we lost during the previous.

— Dante from St. Paul

The last four years have been exhausting, and the body definitely keeps a score. Last morning something that really stuck out was J. Lo’s performance where she spoke Spanish. I am a Latinx woman, and a first-generation college student. I think it was just really moving to see representation in our nation’s biggest event and I’m just really hopeful for the future right now.

— Daisy from St. Peter, Minn.

100 percent, I’m just so proud of our country. I live in a town where it’s mostly Trump supports, so I feel kind of alienated as a lifelong Democrats. But I’m just so happy, first of all for President Biden, and also for Kamala Harris. She’s such an inspiration to many young girls.

— Lauren from Thief River Falls, Minn.

It was a great day for American, and it was a shot in the arm when we really needed a shot in the arm. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to come to the table and have the conversations we haven’t had for a very long time.

— Chris from Austin, Minn.

How are you feeling after the inauguration? Share your thoughts with us

Correction (Jan. 21, 2021): A previous version of this post misidentified the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, and has been updated.

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