Wes Moore sworn in as Maryland’s first Black governor

Jan 17, 2023, 8:01 AM | Updated: Jan 19, 2023, 4:05 am

A person photographs a statue of Thurgood Marshall on Lawyer's Mall prior to Maryland Gov. Wes Moor...

A person photographs a statue of Thurgood Marshall on Lawyer's Mall prior to Maryland Gov. Wes Moore's inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore was sworn in as the state’s first Black governor on Wednesday, pledging to work for greater inclusion and economic equity while also focusing on improving education, fighting crime and climate change.

Moore, after being introduced by Oprah Winfrey in front of the Maryland State House, noted that the state is one of the wealthiest in the nation, but he also described it as “asset-rich and strategy poor.”

“It is time for our policies to be as bold as our aspirations — and to confront the fact that we have been offered false choices,” Moore said. “We do not have to choose between a competitive economy and an equitable one.”

The 44-year-old Democrat, who won in a landslide in November, also committed to fighting violent crime. Many Maryland residents have grown weary in their faith in government’s ability to keep them safe, he said.

In Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, homicides surpassed 300 for the eighth year running last year. Gun violence remains high, despite repeated promises from elected officials and new anti-violence initiatives.

Moore said the state can build a police force “that moves with appropriate intensity and absolute integrity and full accountability, and embrace the fact that we cannot and will not militarize ourselves to safety.”

“We do not have to choose between being a safe state and a just one,” Moore said. “Maryland can, and we will, be both.”

Moore, who has not held public office before now, won a crowded Democratic primary in July before going on to win the general election by more than 30 percentage points against Republican Dan Cox, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Moore is a best-selling author and former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty nonprofit. He also is a Rhodes scholar and a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan.

“This might be his first day as an elected official, but Wes Moore has been a public servant his entire adult life,” Winfrey said. “And there’s so much more to come. He’s just getting started.”

Moore pledged to make the state a leader in addressing the “existential threat” of climate change, which said “is happening now in our communities.”

“Confronting climate change represents another chance for Maryland to lead,” Moore said. “We can and we will be a leader in wind technology, in grid electrification, and clean transit.”

Speaking not far from the nation’s largest estuary, Moore said the state will protect “our jewel,” the Chesapeake Bay, and put Maryland on track to generate “100% clean energy by 2035 and create thousands of jobs in the process.”

The new governor also emphasized his commitment to education, including a state initiative through which high school graduates can volunteer for a year of service.

Moore punctuated his inauguration with references to Black history, beginning with the enslaved people who once arrived by ship at the Annapolis City Dock, which was once a regional slave port and the site of a memorial to enslaved African Kunta Kinte, who arrived there in 1767 and was written about in Alex Haley’s book “Roots.”

Moore was joined by other Black leaders at the wreath-laying ceremony on a bright sunny morning, including Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Attorney General Anthony Brown, former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who was the nation’s second elected Black governor, in 2006. Virginia’s Douglas Wilder was the first, in 1989, and Moore is the third.

“I feel lifted up and encouraged that Black talent has been recognized and has an opportunity to come forward,” Patrick told The Associated Press after the ceremony.

Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who was Maryland’s first Black candidate elected statewide, called it an exciting day for the state.

“It’s interesting to watch these things unfold in a world in which there’s still resistance to it, but we’re excited here in Maryland and I’m honored to be a part of it today and be a part of that line as well,” Steele said while walking in a procession up the city’s Main Street.

Moore took the oath of office using a Bible owned by Frederick Douglass, a Marylander who escaped slavery on the state’s Eastern Shore before becoming an author and famed abolitionist.

When Moore gave his inaugural speech as Maryland’s 63rd governor, he looked out on a crowded mall in front of the Capitol where there is a statue of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native and the nation’s first Black member of the court.

Moore’s running mate, Aruna Miller, also made history as the first immigrant and first Asian American elected statewide in Maryland.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

11 hours ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

1 day ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

2 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

3 days ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

5 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

5 days ago

Wes Moore sworn in as Maryland’s first Black governor