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Inauguration Day 2021: Joe Biden And Kamala Harris Step Into History — Live Updates

Follow BET.com's coverage of the inauguration ceremony and festivities honoring the country's 46th president and vice president.

Howard University Band Escorts Vice President Harris As She Gets To Work
4:45 p.m.

As the new presidential administration got under way, abridged celebrations surrounded them including a presidential parade. But since Vice President Kamala Harris is an alum of Washington D.C.’s Howard University, its “Showtime” Marching Band performed for her as she walked with her family to her offices at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, across the street from the White House West Wing.
Preceded by the marching band from President Joe Biden’s alma mater the University of Delaware, Howard’s band brought the HBCU-flavored performance that it is known for.

Harris and Biden got right to work just a few hours after being sworn in with the president signing a series of executive orders and the vice president preparing to swear in new senators now that she is in the role of president of the Senate.

POTUS, VP Twitter Accounts Switched Over To Reflect Change In White House Administration

2:45 p.m.
Social media was a centerpiece of the last presidential administration and there seemed to be little time between former President Trump’s tweets, which seemed to spend more time insulting people than it did reflecting policy or executive action. Well, that’s all over now.
Beginning with the inauguration, both President Biden and Vice President Harris have taken over the White House Twitter accounts with @POTUS and @VP, respectively.

Biden tweeted a video to start his use of the account, which is run by the government.

Harris posted video of herself being sworn in at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Trump actually used his personal account to tweet most of his messages rather than the official president’s account. But after the U.S. Capitol siege, which Trump is being blamed for inciting with incendiary language, Twitter permanently suspended him. The @POTUS account was always live for the remainder of his presidency, but the only things there are retweets from the Trump White House account. It has now been archived.
Biden’s personal account, which he used during his presidential campaign is still live, and so is Harris’ account. The new First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, has taken over the @FLOTUS account from Melania Trump, which was first held by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff has a brand new Twitter account designated @SecondGentleman.
Former President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to use Twitter and would use the platform to communicate policy and other administrative messages.
He still maintains his personal account @BarackObama, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) maintains his archival account @POTUS44, which last tweeted on Jan. 20, 2017, the day he left office.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden Sworn In As President, Challenged With Uniting A Divided Nation
11:53 a.m.
Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has served in the U.S. government for nearly 50 years in the Senate and as Vice President has become the 46th President of the United States. He was sworn in before noon Wednesday by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
He took the oath of office just two weeks after a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying his election. His inauguration is the first in American history to not be regarded as a peaceful transfer of power. The violence in the capitol claimed five lives and his predecessor, Donald Trump, refused to aid in the presidential transition or even attend the inaugural.
Normally tens of thousands of people would be present for the change of presidents, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, only select people were present, along with a heavy military presence because of the attack.
“This is america’s day, this is democracy’s day. America’s been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge,” Biden, 78, said moments after being sworn in. “The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.

But his administration can now set a new agenda that reverses many of the Trump White House’s actions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, creating a comprehensive strategy for combating the coronavirus pandemic, creating a racial equity initiative in the federal government, and changing the government’s immigration policies, to name a few.
Biden’s return to the White House is however met with many challenges. Although his victory over Donald Trump was decisive, the nation is sharply divided along political lines. If the insurrection at the capitol is any clue, his administration will likely have to deal with the added threat of domestic terrorism as presidents before him had to deal with foreign terrorism.
However, many around the nation, tired of the damage of a four-year political tug of war are ready to move forward into the future. Biden and his team will face the challenge of uniting the country after years of division.
“We must meet this moment as the United States of America,” Biden said, pledging that he will be a president for every American.. “If we do that, I guarantee we will not fail. Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another. We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

Inauguration Day 2021: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris - WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  Kamala Harris is sworn as U.S. Vice President by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Kamala Harris Makes History As She Is Sworn In As Vice President

Kamala D. Harris was sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States. She becomes the first woman to hold the position and the first woman of color to do so as well.
Joined by her husband Doug Emhoff, who will assume the title of Second Gentleman, the first person to do so, she was escorted to the U.S. Capitol steps by Eugene Goodman, the capitol policeman who became a hero during the Jan. 6 siege of the building.

She was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor using the bible that belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court, who she has called her “childhood hero and inspiration.” Another bible she used belonged to Regina Shelton who was a close family friend of hers and helped to raise her, according to Essence.com.
Harris, 56, also takes over the important role of president of the Senate, and with a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republican in the body, she can cast tie-breaking votes, which will likely be in favor of the Democrats.
Harris has ascended in her career from a longtime prosecutor in San Francisco to being California’s Senator and was chosen as Biden’s running mate in August.
 

The Vice President-Elect and husband Doug Emhoff Arrive

11:22 a.m.

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. 

Inauguration 2021: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris - WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff arrive to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Obamas Are Here

11:08 a.m.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States.

(Photo: Getty Images)
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

A Dozen Years Later, Obamas Wish Biden and Harris Well As They Embark On New Journey

10:56 a.m.
Former President Barack Obama, who was sworn into office 12 years ago today, tweeted his congratulations to incoming President Joe Biden, who served with him as vice president.

The two served together for eight years before Donald Trump took the Oval Office. His inaugural had a memorable image of the exiting First Couple departing amid a controversial election and many wishing they would not go.
But former First Lady Michelle Obama, who arrived at the U.S. Capitol with her husband left an Instagram message, also wishing the best for Biden and the new administration.

A New Day

10:25 a.m.

Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden arrive for the inauguration.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Incoming President and Vice President Attend Church Service Before Being Sworn In

10:15 a.m.

Joe Biden
and Kamala Harris attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C. Wednesday morning as they prepared to begin the presidential inauguration ceremonies.

Biden, a devout Catholic and Harris, who was raised in the Baptist church, were joined by their spouses, Dr. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff at the service. He is only the second Catholic — the first was John F. Kennedy — to become president.
In attendance with them in a show of solidarity was a bipartisan group of legislators including Sen. Chuck Schumer; Sen. Mitch McConnell; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, according to The New York Times.
The incoming president and vice president left the service just before 10 a.m. on their way to the U.S. Capitol, where they will be sworn in.
Meanwhile, three of the five living past presidents are arriving in Washington for the ceremonies (former President Jimmy Carter is unable to attend).. With them is former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, arriving 12 years to the date that he was first sworn in.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump Gives Last Address as President, Avoids Inauguration

9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump, exiting the White House for the final time as chief executive, thanked his supporters and family. He, but did not mention his successor by name, but found a way to acknowledge the incoming new administration.

With only three hours left in his presidency, Trump walked out on the White House South Lawn for the final time towards Marine One, which took him to Joint Base Andrews. There, he was met by a small crowd which included his family members and a few of his aides. Vice President Mike Pence was not there, and is expected to attend inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden.

In the tradition of exiting presidents, he is said to have left a note for Biden, according to The New York Times, but it is unclear what the note says.

Trump boasted of many of the things that he outlined during his campaign, including the economy, the military, formation of the U.S. Space force, cuts in federal regulations, and fast tracked development of the coronavirus vaccine.

“It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president,” Trump said. “The future of our country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular. We put it in a position like it’s never been before.”

Trump is the first president since 1869 to skip the inaugural of his successor. He has not publicly given any statements on explanations as to why, but has continued to falsely maintain that the 2020 election was rigged.

“Have a good life, we’ll see you soon,” he said, before boarding Air Force One with First Lady Melania Trump.

Inauguration Day: What to expect
Jan., 20, 2021

6:00 a.m.

In a day long awaited by many, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take the oath of office beginning a new tenure in the White House as the 46th President, and 49th Vice President of the United States. 

Normally, tens of thousands of people would be in attendance, participate in formal and informal events, celebrations, parties and parades. But the coronavirus pandemic has extremely limited those who are able to attend. What’s more, the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol has cleared the street of almost everyone within miles of the building and replaced them only with National Guard troopers, the press and other authorized personnel.

Despite that, the incoming president and vice president still have a full schedule leading into their first day in office.

The Inaugural schedule began on Monday (Jan. 18) with a Day of Service honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Biden and incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden helped to distribute food at Philabundance, a Philadelphia-based charity. Harris gave the keynote address in a livestreamed presentation to Miami-Dade County’s 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program.

On Tuesday Jan. 19, the Presidential Inaugural Committee held a memorial to the lives lost in the coronavirus pandemic over the past year. Cities and towns nationwide were encouraged to ring bells and illuminate buildings to participate.

Additional evening events presented by the committee included celebrations of the African American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, and Latino communities.

On Jan 20, the day the U.S. Constitution says the nation is required to swear in its commander-in-chief at noon, Biden and Harris will be given their oaths of office on the West Front of the capitol building. Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Biden, as tradition holds, will be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden will then give his Inaugural address in which he is expected to lay out his plan to combat the pandemic, assist people left unemployed as a result, and create policies to repair the damaged economy. A source close to planning committee has said that the 20-30 minute speech will also implore all Americans to work together to address the issues we face as a country. As the President-Elect has said on the campaign trail, there is nothing this country cannot do when we do it together.   

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Once the ceremony is complete, the new President and First Lady and the new Vice President and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, will participate in a Pass-in-Review, a tradition where the review military troops passing by the East Front of the Capitol.

They will then move on to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and will be joined by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After Biden receives an official military escort to the White House, he is expected to officially begin his work in office, signing several executive orders and meeting with Harris and other officials and legislators.

Wednesday night, Biden and Harris will deliver remarks and a primetime “Celebrating America'' special and be followed by appearances and performances from multiple stars including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, and Kerry Washington. It will be hosted by Academy Award winner Tom Hanks.

BET's live televised coverage of the 59th Presidential Inaugural begins at 11 a.m. You can watch every historic moment on the BET.com homepage.

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