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Inauguration of Joe Biden

59th United States presidential inauguration

Top 10 Inauguration of Joe Biden related articles

Presidential inauguration of
Joe Biden
DateJanuary 20, 2021; 2 months ago (2021-01-20)
LocationUnited States Capitol,
Washington, D.C.
Organized byJoint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Inaugural Committee
ParticipantsJoe Biden
46th President of the United States
— Assuming office

John Roberts
Chief Justice of the United States
— Administering oath

Kamala Harris
49th Vice President of the United States
— Assuming office

Sonia Sotomayor
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
— Administering oath


The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States took place on January 20, 2021, marking the start of the four-year term of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. The inaugural ceremony took place on the West Front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. and was the 59th presidential inauguration. Biden took the presidential oath of office, before which Harris took the vice presidential oath of office.

The inauguration took place amidst extraordinary political, public health, economic, and national security crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election, which incited a storming of the Capitol; Trump's second impeachment; and a threat of widespread civil unrest, which stimulated a nationwide law enforcement response. Festivities were sharply curtailed by efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the potential for violence near the Capitol.[1][2] The live audience was limited; members of the Congress attended with one guest of their choosing, resembling a State of the Union address.[3] Public health measures such as mandatory face coverings, testing, temperature checks, and social distancing were used to protect participants in the ceremony.[4]

"America United" and "Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union"—a reference to the Preamble to the United States Constitution—served as the inaugural themes.[5]

Inauguration of Joe Biden Intro articles: 54


The inauguration marked the formal culmination of the presidential transition of Joe Biden, who had become president-elect after defeating Donald Trump on November 3, 2020.[6] The victory of Biden and his running mate, Harris, was formalized by the Electoral College vote, which took place on December 14, 2020.[7] In accordance with Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution, Harris resigned her seat in the U.S. Senate effective noon on January 18, 2021.[8] Trump repeatedly falsely disputed the legitimacy of the election, but committed to an orderly transition of power exactly two months after losing.[9]

Upon his inauguration, Biden became the oldest president at 78 years and 61 days, older upon taking office than Ronald Reagan, who left office at 77 years and 349 days. He also became the first president from Delaware, the second Catholic after John F. Kennedy, and the fifteenth former vice president to serve as president.[10][11] Harris became the first woman to hold a nationally elected office, first African American, and first Asian American vice president.

Inauguration of Joe Biden Context articles: 12


Joint Congressional Committee

The swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris was planned by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a bipartisan committee composed of United States Senators Roy Blunt (chairman), Mitch McConnell, and Amy Klobuchar, and United States Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Kevin McCarthy.[12][5] The committee is overseen by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.[5]

On December 8, 2020, Republican members of the committee voted against a resolution that would have publicly recognized Biden as the president-elect and Harris as the vice president-elect.[13] After Biden's win was certified by the Electoral College, Blunt and several other Republican senators finally acknowledged him as the president-elect, stating that he will facilitate communications with Biden's presidential inaugural committee to prepare for the inauguration.[14]

Presidential Inaugural Committee

The 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee organized several other inauguration‑related events at the direction of the President‑elect and Vice President‑elect of the United States. The committee was led by Jim Clyburn, Eric Garcetti, Cedric Richmond, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Gretchen Whitmer (co-chairs), Tony Allen (chief executive officer), Maju Varghese (executive director), Yvanna Cancela and Erin Wilson (deputy executive directors), David A. Kessler (chief medical adviser), and Adrienne Elrod (director of talent and external affairs).[15] The committee hired Stephanie Cutter and Ricky Kirshner, who produced the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, along with Glenn Weiss to organize the inaugural programming.[16]

Inauguration of Joe Biden Organizers articles: 22

Theme and programming

The Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chose the inaugural theme "Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union" to highlight the inaugural ceremony as a "hallmark of American governance and democracy" and stress the peaceful transition of power.[5]

Allen, Biden Inaugural Committee CEO, said the events would "look different amid the pandemic" but maintain inaugural traditions while engaging Americans in a safe manner.[15] This included several virtual concerts and events hosted by celebrities, featuring live musical performances and speeches that spanned five days—Saturday, January 16, 2021, through the evening of Inauguration Day.[17] The committee's inaugural theme was "America United" and its official YouTube channel and other social media featured exclusive content related to the ceremonies.[18]

Inauguration of Joe Biden Theme and programming articles: 4


On September 3, 2020, the Capitol Police Board announced that public access to the West Front of the United States Capitol would be restricted from September 7, 2020, to February 28, 2021, to "allow for the safe and secure construction of the Inaugural platform, stands, and other infrastructure necessary to support the event".[19] Construction began on September 29, 2020.[20] The traditional "first nail ceremony" commemorating the start of construction of the inaugural platform was not held because it coincided with the death and state funeral of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice.[21] The platform can support 1,600 spectators. However, far fewer were permitted for this event, due to attendance restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[4] Another 1,000 people, often choirs and musical guests, are traditionally situated on risers above the platform, but these were not used at full capacity for this event.[5]

Inauguration of Joe Biden Planning articles: 4


Compared to past inaugurations, the drastic reduction in crowd size at Biden's inauguration was expected to reduce costs.[22] Typically, presidential inaugurations cost about US$100 million.[22] In September 2020, prior to implementing attendance restrictions, costs were estimated to exceed US$44.9 million, with the District of Columbia's costs incurred in connection with the event being reimbursed by the federal government.[23] However, the storming of the Capitol two weeks prior to the inauguration on January 6, along with threats of nationwide unrest, significantly increased the need for security.[24] John Sandweg, a former Homeland Security Department official, remarked that the United States Secret Service likely has a surplus of funds because of lower-than-usual expenses during the 2020 campaign season, when presidential nominating conventions were mostly virtual and the travel of presidential candidates was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[22]

Inaugural platform at the United States Capitol

Inauguration of Joe Biden Costs articles: 4

Security and counter-terrorism efforts

The inaugural platform occupied by pro-Trump rioters during the storming of the United States Capitol, fourteen days before the inauguration

The storming of the United States Capitol on January 6 raised concerns about the security of the inauguration.[25][26] However, Biden chose not to move the ceremony indoors, indicating that he believed a public, outdoor ceremony was necessary to demonstrate strength.[27] In response, organizers and officials made an unprecedented effort to secure the Capitol during the ceremony and deter people from visiting Washington, D.C. during the week of the inauguration over concerns of political violence. While several individuals were arrested near the Capitol in the days preceding the event for carrying illegal weapons,[28] disobeying police,[29] and trespassing,[30] and a fire near a homeless encampment prompted an evacuation of the grounds,[31] the ceremony proceeded without incident.[32] A heightened security presence remained in the city through the end of the month.[33]

Security operations

Troops resting on the floor of Emancipation Hall inside the Capitol

The inauguration, like all ceremonies since the first inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001, was designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE).[24] However, following the attack and reports of subsequent threats to disrupt Biden's inauguration and incite nationwide unrest, the Secret Service launched a security operation that surpassed any in modern U.S. history.[25][34] The Secret Service established a Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC) to coordinate security—formed six days earlier than planned—composed of agents and representatives from many government agencies (such as the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Defense Department, Park Police, and D.C. Metro Police) and private companies (including a gas company, CSX railroad, and Amtrak).[25] Combined efforts included:

Security-related site restrictions in and around the National Mall, Southwest D.C., Capitol Hill, and downtown Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day

Travel restrictions and site closures

Inauguration of Joe Biden Security and counter-terrorism efforts articles: 52

Pre-inaugural events

America United inaugural welcome

On the Saturday before the inauguration, America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America's Changemakers, opened the inaugural program through a series of musical performances and political speeches.[56][17] The live-streamed event opened with an original performance of "Everybody Deserves To Be Free" by the Resistance Revival Choir, a group of female and non-binary protest singers,[57] featuring a lead vocal by soul artist Deva Mahal.[56]

The Pledge of Allegiance was then led by members of the Girl Scouts. Mexican American producer Cristela Alonzo hosted the program, remarking that Biden's inauguration will be "the beginning of the next chapter" in American history.[56] New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland then recounted the history of America's indigenous peoples, and introduced Quechan Indian tribal nation leader Claudette White, who joined in the performance of a traditional song.[56] After the performance, several female political organizers appeared and discussed the significance of Harris's election as the first female vice president.[56] Alonzo then introduced actor Nik Dodani, who emphasized the importance of Biden's inauguration, and civil rights activist Janet Murguía, who spoke of the political successes of women of color in the 2020 presidential election.[56] International, national, and local union leaders, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and National Education Association president Rebecca S. Pringle, along with leaders representing firefighters, government and service sector employees, steel, auto, postal, food, and communications workers then hailed Biden's win as a success for workers in their respective industries, citing his support of their causes, such as the Fight for $15.[56]

Actress Whoopi Goldberg then appeared and said she feels "optimistic" for the nation under Biden's and Harris's leadership, and actor and musician Darren Criss then performed a cover of "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher".[56][58] Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Georgia, an early endorser of Biden's 2020 campaign,[59] then joined, saying Biden "will ensure that all Americans ... have their voices heard".[56] Musical group the Black Pumas then performed their song "Colors" and said they are "looking forward to a new sense of optimism, unity and peace" for all Americans.[58] Concluding the event, New York Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced Harris, who said that she "stands on the shoulders" of those who created opportunities for women, particularly African-American women, to participate and lead in politics.[17][56]

Official musical playlist

The Biden Inaugural Committee released an official musical playlist of 46 songs (symbolizing Biden as the 46th president) that was curated by disc jockey D-Nice and music label Raedio,[60] created by actress Issa Rae.[61] The playlist was part of the committee's efforts to have Americans participate from home for the inauguration.[62] The playlist, released on all major streaming platforms, included Biden, Harris, and their spouses' "walk-on songs", which were played when they appeared on stage at campaign rallies.[60][62] According to Rolling Stone, Biden's "walk-on song" was "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen; Jill Biden's was "You Make My Dreams (Come True)" by Hall & Oates; Harris's was "Work That" by Mary J. Blige; and Emhoff's was "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals.[60] Committee CEO Allen remarked that the musical selections "reflect the relentless spirit and rich diversity of America" and served as the "score to a new chapter" in American history as Biden and Harris begin their "important work to unite [the] country".[60][62]

"We the People" virtual concert

On the Sunday before the inauguration, Biden's inaugural committee organized the virtual "We the People" concert fundraiser co-hosted by actor Keegan-Michael Key and actress Debra Messing.[63] Attendees of the live-streamed event had to donate to the Biden Inaugural Committee to be allowed entry.[64] The concert opened with Biden and his wife, Jill, thanking supporters of his campaign and acknowledging the lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic; Biden remarked that it is the "honor of [his] lifetime" to serve as president.[64]

Musician Ben Harper was the first musical performance of the night, playing his song "With My Own Two Hands".[65] Singer Michael Bivins made a video appearance and thanked viewers for their donations. Band AJR then performed their song "Bummerland".[65] Singer Barbra Streisand then joined to congratulate Biden and Harris, calling for them to "restore the health" of the United States and world; she also performed her rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again", an American standard.[65][64] Messing introduced actor and former Barack Obama administration member Kal Penn, who reflected on the importance of the inauguration and hope of a "brighter future".[65] Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, then joined via video link to thank supporters and list the issues they will face in leading the nation.[64]

Rapper will.i.am then performed "American Dream",[65] a charity single supporting his fundraising initiative for the i.am Angel Foundation to expand STEM education for underprivileged students.[66] Actress and activist Sophia Bush later appeared to thank donors to the inaugural committee, and musician Carole King performed her Grammy Award-winning song "You've Got a Friend".[67] Mexican actor Jaime Camil then delivered a short address on immigration, and James Taylor performed "America the Beautiful", which he also played at the 2013 inauguration.[68][69] Actress Connie Britton reflected on political unity and the time she met then-Vice President Biden at the 2016 United State of Women Summit.[68] Musical act Fall Out Boy performed their song "Centuries" in a pre-recorded video.[65] Cher then addressed Biden's and Harris's win, saying that she is "thrilled" and "optimistic" for them to lead the nation; she then performed a cover of Miley Cyrus's song "I Hope You Find It".[64] In concluding the event, DJ Cassidy addressed viewers and sampled music.[65]

National Day of Service

A social media graphic from the Biden Inaugural Committee regarding the National Day of Service

Two days before Inauguration Day, January 18, 2021, was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday that recognizes Dr. King's birthday. Biden and his inaugural committee encouraged Americans to engage in acts of community service and organized more than 2,500 virtual or socially distant volunteer events in 56 U.S. states and territories in partnership with AmeriCorps.[70] The committee recommended several volunteer activities aimed at improving people's economic, health, and social well-being,[71] including writing cards for those recovering from COVID-19, knitting sentimental items for the homeless, serving at "contactless" food and clothing donation drives, and participating in community cleanups.[72] Biden and his wife volunteered at Philabundance, a non-profit food bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by helping box canned goods.[73] Harris and her husband volunteered in Washington, D.C.[74]

United We Serve online event

On the evening of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Biden inaugural committee celebrated Dr. King's commitment to community service through virtual speeches and music in United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service.[75][76] Co-hosts Sean Patrick Thomas and Lynn Whitfield introduced the event and commended the acts of volunteerism Americans participated in during the day of service; both Harris and her husband, Emhoff, appeared and discussed the importance of the inauguration and community service.[76] Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III, daughter-in-law, Andrea, and granddaughter, Yolanda, discussed community service; his youngest daughter, Bernice King, then spoke at a pulpit and remarked on her late father's practice of nonviolence.[75] Musician Aloe Blacc performed his song "My Way";[77] cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed Air and Simple Gifts, a composition he also performed at the 2009 inauguration in the presence of then-Vice President-elect Biden;[78] Andra Day performed her song "Rise Up"; BeBe Winans sang Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech;[79] Alejandro Fernández and band Maná performed "Decepciones";[80] and Chesca and Diane Warren performed "El Cambio", which was frequently played during Biden's campaign. Additional speakers included Al Sharpton, NAACP president Derrick Johnson, National Urban League president Marc Morial, Senators Cory Booker and Tammy Duckworth, Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids, actress Rosario Dawson, and several other academics and civil rights activists who spoke on the legacy of Dr. King.[77]

The National Mall covered with flags representing inaugural attendees who were unable to attend in person

Field of Flags

Across the National Mall to 13th Street, a public art display composed of 191,500 U.S. flags and 56 pillars of light (representing the 50 U.S. states, D.C., and the five permanently inhabited U.S. territories), were installed, representing those who could not attend the inauguration in person due to the attendance restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[81][82] The field was lit the evening of January 18.[83]

Lincoln Memorial lighting

Biden, Harris, and their spouses at the Lincoln Memorial lighting ceremony

On Tuesday, January 19, Biden departed his home state of Delaware in a send-off ceremony at his late son Beau Biden's namesake Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle;[84] the event included remarks from Governor John Carney, Biden and his wife, Dr. Biden, and a benediction by Rabbi Michael S. Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington.[85] Later that day, Biden, Harris, and their spouses participated in a nationwide lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.[86] Inaugural organizers invited communities around the United States to light buildings and ring church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET on the eve of the inauguration in a moment of "unity and remembrance" for those lost to the pandemic.[86] The Lincoln Memorial lighting was held simultaneously, providing a moment of national reflection to help Americans find the spirit to rebuild after the pandemic.[87] Cardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, delivered the ceremony's invocation; gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang "Hallelujah" and Michigan nurse Lori Marie Key performed "Amazing Grace". Both Biden and Harris, in their addresses, emphasized the importance of national grieving, with Biden saying it's "how [Americans] heal".[84] Several national landmarks participated in the lighting ceremony, including the Empire State Building, Space Needle, and buildings in major U.S. cities and on tribal lands.[87] Washington National Cathedral tolled its bells four hundred times, each one in memory of a thousand Americans who had died, thus far, in the COVID-19 pandemic.[88]

Other virtual events

Asian American and Pacific Islanders

Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were celebrated in AAPI Inaugural Ball: Breaking Barriers, a partnership between the inaugural committee, and advocacy organizations IMPACT and RUN AAPI.[89][77] The event featured remarks and musical performances from Neera Tanden, Congresspeople Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Andy Kim, and Raja Krishnamoorthi; former Olympian Michelle Kwan; actors Kal Penn, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani, and Chloe Bennet;[90] and musical performances by Japanese Breakfast, who played "Everybody Wants to Love You!",[89] Ari Afsar, Raja Kumari, and others.[77]

African Americans

African Americans were celebrated in We Are One, hosted by Terrence J, through "inspiring stories and entertaining performances".[91] Politicians Stacey Abrams, congresspeople Jim Clyburn, Cedric Richmond, Joyce Beatty, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator-elect Raphael Warnock appeared.[77] Actors and actresses, including Leslie Jones and Kim Fields, were also featured; musical acts Tobe Nwigwe, DJ D-Nice, Frankie Beverly, The O'Jays, Rapsody, and Step Afrika!, among others, performed.[77] The event also included a Battle of the Bands, featuring several historically black college marching bands from around the nation.[77][91] Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority president Dr. Glenda Glover and Howard University president Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick delivered remarks.[92]

Hispanic and Latino Americans

Hispanic and Latino Americans were celebrated in Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience, and Promise, hosted by Eva Longoria, in partnership with many Hispanic advocacy groups, including the Hispanic Federation.[77][91] Entertainment figures John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, Ivy Queen, and Becky G appeared along with many civil and voting rights advocates and U.S. senators Ben Ray Luján, Bob Menendez, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Alex Padilla (Harris's senatorial designate).[77] Musical performers included Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gaby Moreno (featuring David Garza), who performed "Fronteras",[77] Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda paid tribute to Puerto Rico through the song "En Mi Viejo San Juan",[90] Mariachi Nuevo Santander, who performed American folk song "This Land is Your Land"; and All-Star Tejanos United, an act from Roma, Texas, performed "America the Beautiful: A Salute to the Latino Imprint".[93] The Wailers performed the Emilio Estefan production "One World, One Prayer", featuring relatives of Jamaican musician Bob Marley.[91]

Train ride

Biden originally planned to travel to Washington, D.C. from Wilmington, Delaware on an Amtrak passenger train, which he routinely took during his time as a U.S. Senator. However, on January 14 this plan was canceled due to security concerns.[94] On January 20, 2017, after completing his tenure as vice president, Biden departed the city on an Amtrak Acela train bound for his namesake station in Wilmington, Delaware.[95]

Inauguration Day morning

Biden and his wife, Dr. Biden, spent the night of January 19 at Blair House, the President's Guest House—a custom for incoming presidents.[96] Traditionally, the president-elect meets with the outgoing president at the White House on the morning of their inauguration after a church service. Since Trump did not attend the inaugural ceremony—becoming the first outgoing president to not attend since Andrew Johnson in 1869[97]—and did not communicate with Biden directly since the second presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, this tradition was not upheld.[98] Before each of his inaugurations as vice president, Biden attended a Catholic Mass celebrated by Kevin O'Brien. In 2013, this service was at the vice president's residence.[99] Biden and his wife, along with the second family attended a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by O'Brien at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington.[100] Biden extended invitations to the four congressional leaders from both parties—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—and all four accepted.[101]

Trump greets a crowd of supporters during his farewell ceremony

Trump departure ceremony

Trump departed for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida the morning of the inauguration out of Joint Base Andrews aboard Air Force One.[102][103] Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, landed on the tarmac in helicopter Marine One.[104] Cannons fired in salute, after a military band played "Hail to the Chief", in front of a modest crowd of a few hundred aides and other loyalists.[105] Trump's White House had issued invitations for the event to many present and former administration officials. Several invitees who have been critical of Trump, such as Don McGahn, John F. Kelly, and Anthony Scaramucci, declined to attend.[106][84]

Trump delivered short remarks at a podium bearing the presidential seal, telling his supporters "we will be back in some form."[104][103][107] A number of songs played as he boarded the helicopter, many of which featured prominently at Trump rallies; this included "Macho Man" and "Y.M.C.A.", as well as "Fortunate Son", "Funeral for a Friend", and "Billie Jean".[108] As Air Force One lifted off, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played—the song Trump and his wife danced to during his inaugural ball four years prior.[103]

Trump delivered his official farewell address the day prior, and referred to the "inauguration of a new administration", saying that "we pray for its success at keeping America safe and prosperous."[109][110] In keeping with tradition, Trump left Biden a letter of support in the Resolute desk.[111] When asked about the letter, Biden said it was "generous", but refused to provide details.[112] Outgoing Vice President Pence did not attend. After attending Biden's inauguration, he departed for his home state of Indiana, where a group of supporters, including his brother, Indiana Congressman Greg Pence, welcomed him.[84]

"Our White House" online event

Beginning two hours before the outset of the inaugural ceremony, actress Keke Palmer hosted Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans, a livestream aimed at engaging youth in the day's events.[113] Dr. Biden addressed viewers in a pre-recorded message, and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar discussed the ceremony's significance; a Nickelodeon special on White House pets and PBS NewsHour student interviews aired, along with other curated educational content.[113]

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