Wes Moore was inaugurated Wednesday as the governor of Maryland, making the Democrat just the third Black person ever to be elected and inaugurated as a governor in the U.S., as well as the first Black governor in Maryland’s history.
Moore, an Army vet and bestselling author, drubbed his Republican opponent in November’s election by more than 30 points, giving Democrats control over the House, the Senate and the governor’s mansion in Maryland.
His inauguration speech made it clear that the state’s historical inequality was on his mind, and it was also clear he was aiming to distinguish himself from right-wing officials who’ve sought to hide — or worsen — those inequities.
Just read this passage:
It’s impossible not to think about our past and our path. We’re blocks away from the Annapolis Docks, where so many enslaved people arrived in this country against their will, and we are standing in front of a Capitol that was built by their hands. We have made uneven and unimaginable progress since then, and it is a history that has been created by generations of people whose own history was lost, stolen or never recorded.
“This journey has never been about making history,” Moore said. “It’s about marching forward.
“Today is not an indictment of the past; today is a celebration of our collective future.”
I think it can be both. When people celebrate the future, it’s because they know all the obstacles they overcame in the past. And I think a future truly worthy of celebration is one that fairly criticizes — and learns from — wrongs committed in the past.
Nonetheless, Moore’s fundamentals are clear: He acknowledges that injustice and inequality have persisted throughout U.S. history and endure to this day.
On Wednesday’s episode of “The ReidOut,” Joy highlighted the stark comparison between Moore’s inclusive speech and the recent inaugural speech of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who spent much of his time fuming over liberals and denouncing inclusive learning plans that address social inequality.
“Florida is where ‘woke’ goes to die,” DeSantis said at the onset of his second term.
I’d argue “woke” died long ago, when it went out of style for Black people, who created the term and were using it before it was adopted by white bigots looking to pervert its meaning.
But either way, point taken: DeSantis thinks workplace or school teachings about nonwhite history and social inequality are unlawful. He acted on those views last year by signing the so-called Stop WOKE Act. His administration has continued its tyrannical behavior this year, pressuring the NHL after having learned about its plans for a summit to attract diverse job talent; blocking high schools from teaching an Advanced Placement course about African American history; and targeting trans health care at Florida universities.
In contrast, Moore spoke Wednesday of providing support for all students, including “our special education students, our English-language learners, our LGBTQIA students, students experiencing homelessness and every single child who needs a little extra help.”
Like Moore and Maryland Democrats, Ron DeSantis’ party has total control over Florida’s government. But the two men couldn’t have more differing visions of what the government should do and whom it ought to serve.