Announcement of Sen. Kamala Harris as candidate for vice president of the United States in Wilmington, Delaware, on Aug. 12, 2020. Photo from Biden For President is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Rip Rapson Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Who would have guessed that Wednesday’s inauguration would be so transcendentally coherent in its beauty, inspiration, and catharsis, with a guest list that included Garth Brooks to Lady Gaga, Hillary Clinton to Mike Pence, and Barack Obama to J-Lo. But it was. We are blessed as a nation to have people of such unsurpassed decency, graciousness, selflessness, and passion working to create a sense of common purpose and shared commitment. We are honored and privileged to have President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris assume their roles at such a seminal inflection point in our nation’s history. The President’s powerful call to unity on Wednesday and the glorious musical moments speak for themselves. What stuck with me, above all, was National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s soaring eloquence and power. Standing at the rostrum where Maya Angelou (1993) and Elizabeth Alexander (2009) and Robert Frost (1961) stood, Ms. Gorman delivered “The Hill We Climb,” as a nation watched and listened and believed. Two stanzas – of many that struck me in the moment – provided a peek into her story and a resolute hope for what is to come: “We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one… We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free… We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.” Our new Administration then found their new offices and commenced with profoundly important and useful work. Among the waterfall of Executive Orders and actions signed Wednesday – with scores more to come today and in the next week – were a number that touch our work directly: Pandemic Relief Extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and requesting Congress to provide additional relief and to extend them beyond March 31st; Extending the pause on interest and principal payments for federal student loans. Climate, Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Signing the instrument to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, making the United States a party to the agreement in 30 days; Directing all executive agencies and departments to review and remediate all federal regulations and executive actions that were “harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available evidence, or otherwise not in the national interest” – these include vehicle fuel economy and emission standards, building efficiency standards, shrinkage of boundaries of key national monuments; Placing a moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge; Revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Racial Justice Launching an initiative to identify, construct a baseline for, and root out systemic racism in the practices and policies of federal programs and institutions, including requiring each agency to deliver an action plan within 200 days and developing a game-plan for engaging with historically underrepresented and underserved communities; Rescinding the “1776 Commission,” which limited the ability of the federal government and contractors from providing diversity, equity and inclusion training. Immigration Revoking efforts to exclude non-citizens from the Census and providing the Census Bureau adequate time to do an accurate count; Committing unequivocally through a Presidential Memorandum to continuing, preserving, and fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to encouraging Congress to enact legislation to create permanent status and a path to citizenship; Reversing the Muslim Ban, which restricts United States entry from primarily Muslim and African countries; Revoking the executive order directing extreme immigration enforcement; Pausing the United States-Mexico wall construction; Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation Ensuring that the federal government interprets the Civil Rights Act as prohibiting workforce discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. This is only a partial list – there are more, and they are forceful and forward-looking. We’re off to a good start.