By Hazel Trice Edney
President Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States Jan. 20, during a peaceful exchange of powers with America’s first Black President Barack Obama. Trump assured a unified America despite never apologizing for leading one of the most hate-filled campaigns in recent history.
“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people. Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come,” Trump told the crowd. The Bible tells us, ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.’ We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”
The speech was met with applause and chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” by the vastly White audience – a reversal from the two inaugurations of eight and four years ago, when throngs of Black people packed in to witness the historic inaugurations of President Obama.
The Trump inauguration, though well attended with crowds stretching from the steps of the U. S. Capitol back to the Washington Monument, did not draw as many people as the Obama inauguration, based on close observations of the crowd by this reporter and Black press photographers who attended all three ceremonies.
More than 50 Democratic members of Congress decided to skip the inauguration; including Black Caucus members U. S. Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Lewis contends he does not see Trump as a legitimate president given the involvement of Russian email hacking in order to help him get elected, according to confirmation by intelligence agencies. Lee and others refused to attend because of protest for Trump’s vitriolic conduct during the election.
Still President Obama had promised a “peaceful exchange of powers,” a tenet of American democracy. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, were also in attendance with their wives. Former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who battled Trump vigorously to win the presidency, smiled a lot and appeared stately during the procession and ceremony.
“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent,” Trump said. He repeated promised to “make America first” in his proposed national and international policies, legislations and executive orders. He also promised to uplift “inner cities,” a well-known euphemism for the Black community.
“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public,” Trump said.
“But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.”
Trump’s words are lofty, but his actions have not matched what he has said. So far, he has nominated an all-White cabinet; except Dr. Ben Carson who will head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has also appointed former White supremacist advocate Steve Bannon as a top advisor and nominated former Klan sympathizer Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general. He has appointed Omarosa Manigault to assist him with public liaison, but it remains to be seen what will come from a meeting she and other aids had with Black organizational representatives.
Meanwhile on Saturday, the day after the inauguration, more than a million women packed the streets of Washington and other major cities around the U.S. making demands on a string of key issues important to women, Blacks and other minorities. Civil rights leaders have taken a wait and see posture while putting pressure on the Trump administration through protest.
Led by Rev. Al Sharpton, they started that pressure during a march one week before the inauguration. On Inauguration Day, National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial emailed a statement essentially promising to continue marching to correct social ills that were prevalent 50 years ago.
“My own predecessor as head of the National Urban League, the legendary Whitney M. Young, was one of the organizers of that march and delivered his own stirring speech that day. He spoke of the need for Black Americans to do “some more marching:” … from dangerous ghettos to safe, unrestricted neighborhoods…from poverty wages to skilled, family-sustaining jobs…from the cemeteries of early graves to health centers from overcrowded, inadequate classrooms to fully-equipped, professionally staffed and integrated schools,” wrote Morial. “And there we were, marching for those same things a half-century later, marching under the motto, “We shall not be moved.”