After receiving a record 81 million votes, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala D. Harris will make history for the Democratic Party and the nation, when they’re sworn in as President and Vice President, respectively, of the United States of America.
Biden, 78, will become the nation’s 46th Commander in Chief after serving as vice president in the Obama Administration and nearly four decades in the U.S. Senate. Harris, 56, the former Attorney General of California turned U.S. Senator, will shatter new barriers as the first woman and first Black and Southeast Asian American to serve as Vice President.
The inaugural swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to take place Wednesday, January 20 on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The theme is “America United,” which the Presidential Inauguration Committee says “reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together, and creates a path to a brighter future.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this inauguration is significantly scaled down and officials have discouraged people from traveling to D.C. Besides strict health and safety protocols around the coronavirus, there’s heightened security following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. According to the U.S. Capitol Police, the Capitol Grounds will not be accessible to the public on January 20. Already, numerous streets are closed, fencing has been erected, and thousands of National Guard troops are on duty.
Nonetheless, the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) has planned a series of events aimed at honoring and re-imagining inaugural traditions, which people can participate in from their own homes. [Inaugural events will stream at BidenInaugural.org/watch and on the PIC’s social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch.]
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“We are thrilled to announce an inspired group of dynamic participants for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies,” said Tony Allen, CEO of the PIC and a former special assistant to Biden and president of Delaware State University. “They represent one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation.”
The inauguration ceremony and related festivities will feature Americans who represent many walks of life, including Andrea Hall, a career firefighter in Fulton County, Georgia who is the first Black woman in her department to be promoted to the rank of captain and Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate. A host of big celebrities will participate including Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Lady Gaga, who will perform the National Anthem.
Along with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of President-elect Biden, and Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President-elect Harris, several former U.S. presidents and First Ladies’ are slated to be on hand. They include 44th President Barack Obama, and former First Lady Michelle Obama; 43rd President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush; 42nd President Bill Clinton and former First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
President Donald Trump—impeached for a second time for inciting a mob that stormed the Capitol—previously Tweeted that he will not attend the inaugural ceremonies. However, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence are expected to attend.
Read on for a snapshot of upcoming inaugural events.
SUNDAY, 1/17: “We The People” Concert 8 p.m. ET
The ‘We The People” concert will be co-hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and Debra Messing. Fellow entertainers and performers include: Michael Bivins, Ben Harper, will.i.am, Carole King, Kal Penn and James Taylor. The event will also feature messages from President-elect Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and soon to be Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff.
Keegan-Michael Key | Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb
MONDAY, 1/18: “United We Serve” National Day of Service 8 p.m. ET
The Presidential Inauguration Committee is partnering with local, state, and national organizations on events for the National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The National Day of Service will culminate in “United We Serve”—which will celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and the incoming Administration. Confirmed participants include: Rev. Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Andra Day, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rosario Dawson, Lynn Whitfield, Bebe Winans, Sean Patrick Thomas, Rep. Sharice Davids, Yo-Yo Ma, Diane Warren, Aloe Blacc and more.
Rev. Dr. Bernice King
TUESDAY, 1/19: “I Do Solemnly Swear: The U.S. Presidential Inauguration” 12 noon ET
A virtual learning experience for educators, students, and families from Discovery Inc. and Discovery Education. Dr. Jill Biden will greet students, and there will be interviews with inaugural experts and historians.
US President-elect Joe Biden arrives with wife Jill Biden
TUESDAY, 1/19: Nationwide COVID-19 Memorial 5:30 p.m. ET
A memorial to remember and honor the lives lost to COVID-19 nationwide. A Washington, D.C. ceremony will feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. The PIC is inviting cities and towns around the country to join the nation’s capital in illuminating buildings and ringing church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET in a national moment of unity and remembrance.
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
WEDNESDAY, 1/20: “Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans,” 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET.
The day kicks off with “Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans,” 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET. The event will be hosted by actress and advocate Keke Palmer. It will feature a special message from Dr. Jill Biden; trivia questions (including some asked by Doug Emhoff); commentary from historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar; a segment on presidential pets produced by Nickelodeon; excerpts of student voices from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs “We the Young People” programming; segments produced by the Library of Congress; and other special features.
WEDNESDAY, 1/20: Swearing-In Ceremony and Inaugural Address Time TBD
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building. After taking their respective oaths of office, President-elect Biden will deliver his inaugural address. The 59th Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony will also include Father Leo J. O’Donovan, who begins with the invocation; Andrea Hall, the first Black woman to be promoted to captain with the Fulton County, Georgia Fire Department, starts the Pledge of Allegiance; Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem; National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recites a poem; Jennifer Lopez performs; and Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman delivers the benediction.
US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
WEDNESDAY, 1/20: Inauguration Day Ceremonies Immediately Following Swearing In
Once President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are sworn in, a series of ceremonies will begin including: Pass in Review (Time TBD)—On the East front of the U.S. Capitol, President-elect Biden, hosted by the Commander of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, will review the readiness of military troops. Every branch of the military will be represented; Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying Ceremony (Time TBD)—President-elect Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and Doug Emhoff will visit Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honor military members who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They will be joined by the Obamas and other former U.S. presidents and first ladies; and Presidential Escort Time TBD —President-elect Biden will receive a Presidential Escort to the White House with every branch of the military will be represented. Scheduled to participate are The U.S. Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps from the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard.”
This will be followed by a virtual “Parade Across America,” a televised event featuring diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country.
WEDNESDAY, 1/20: “Celebrating America” Primetime Special 8:30-10:00 p.m. ET
The “Celebrating America” program will feature remarks by Biden and Harris, which the committee says will showcase “the American people’s resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild.” Hosted by Tom Hanks and featuring appearances by celebs such as Kerry Washington, this 90-minute program will include performances at iconic locations nationwide by John Legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi and others.