Wes Moore, an Army veteran and former nonprofit executive, was sworn in Wednesday as Maryland’s first Black governor.
He’s the third Black person to be elected governor in US history.
“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,” Moore said in his inaugural speech after being introduced by Oprah Winfrey, who endorsed him during the election.
“And we are standing in front of a capitol that was built by their hands. We have made uneven and unimaginable progress since then.”
Moore addressed key policy priorities in his address including child poverty, the economy and crime. He said it is “unacceptable” that one in eight children live in poverty in the state despite Maryland having a high median income, as well as more than 250,000 people in the state lacking health coverage.
“We must refuse to accept that,” the Democrat said. “Instead I’m asking you to believe that Maryland can be different.”
Moore also focused on the economy in the state and said “we do not have to choose between a competitive economy and an equitable one.”
The new governor said the state can attract and attain top industries, such as aerospace, clean energy and cybersecurity, while raising the minimum wage.
While speaking on violent crime and incarceration, Moore said he “knows what it feels like to have handcuffs on” when he was 11 years old, and he knows what it feels like to “stand with families and mourn the victims of violent crime.”
Moore said Maryland will be both a safe state and a just one.
Moore defeated Republican Dan Cox in November by 32 points in the deep-blue state. He succeeds term-limited Republican Larry Hogan.
In introducing Moore, Winfrey called him “a man I so trust. I trust you. I trust your vision. I trust your leadership.”