ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Under unseasonably warm and bright skies, with his hand on a Bible used by Frederick Douglass, and his feet on ground trod by enslaved people disembarking from the Middle Passage, Wes Moore took the oath of office as Maryland's first Black governor. The history-making moment made Moore one of only three African American people ever elected governor in the U.S.
The Rhodes Scholar and Army veteran stepped out of the governor's mansion Wednesday morning to a line of saluting police officers and cheering people hanging from balconies along State Circle.
For Anthony Brown, who lost a governor's race to Larry Hogan but now serves as Maryland's first Black Attorney General, it was an incredible day.
"It's unbelievable," Brown said. "We started the day at a dock where we came in as chattel, and today celebrate the first African American whose family will reside in Government House, preside over government. I couldn't have thought of anyone who would be more qualified than Wes Moore."
American icon Oprah Winfrey, who helped introduce Moore called it, "an extraordinary day, a historical day, a legacy-building day."
But the day meant at least as much for the thousands of people who lined streets and packed into the plaza in front of the statehouse to see Moore.
"It's history, it's the day we've been waiting for," said Nanetta Hall of Severn, Maryland, who was videotaping from a stoop above the scene. "It hopefully won't be the last for an African American governor or president."
One group toward the front was cheering itself hoarse.
"He's my cousin, we're all family!" said Aron Avant, who used to celebrate holidays at his grandmother's house with Moore.
The Avant-Johnson family of southern Maryland crowded into seats in the sun and couldn't stop talking about the relative they remember both as a "regular guy" and as extraordinary.
"We all knew he'd do great things," said 16-year-old Janiya Avant. "He had it in him.
The family reflected on how Moore's aspirations have encouraged them all.
"We can all make it big like this, we can all have big dreams," Janiya said, offering a shy smile. "I want to be a pediatrician."
One of Moore's littlest relatives may have even foreshadowed Moore's next political move, talking about how his election as "president" made her look forward to her own future, as well as her past.
"We're at the statehouse -- White House is next," her uncle reminded her.
But what was clear was everyone in Annapolis Wednesday had a story about why Moore's inauguration was important, and why they had to be there.
"It has no limitations at this point -- it's just motivation," said Tyrone Parker of Temple Hills, his hands and voice both rising with the excitement. "And you can feel the spirit as a people. We rise!"
Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Maryland), called Moore's inauguration a victory, but says there's more work to do,
"I'm thinking about all the nameless, faceless men who came through here" enslaved," he said. "The struggle always continues. As long as there's wrong in our society, we've got to find a way to find right. As long as there is darkness, we've got to find a way to lift light. And as long as we have people who want to undo all the great things of this nation, we've got to find a way to lift a united, beloved community, that Dr. King talked so much about."
WATCH: Full inauguration day ceremony for Wes Moore and Aruna Miller
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