Wes Moore sworn in as Maryland’s first Black governor; promises to address inequities

By: Caitlyn Freeman, Jake Shindel and Carolin Harvey

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Democrat Wes Moore was sworn in as Maryland’s first Black governor Wednesday, promising in his inaugural address to help close racial and educational inequities in the state. 

Moore spoke to a crowd outside the Maryland Statehouse after being sworn in as the state’s 63rd governor, lamenting about inequitable access to healthcare and education. He cited statistics that show Marylanders earn the highest median income in the U.S., but said “1 in 8 of our children lives in poverty.”

He pledged to invest in disadvantaged students and those from minority groups, including LGBTQ children and teenagers and students experiencing homelessness.

“We do not have to choose between giving our children an excellent education and an equitable one,” he said. “We will ensure that every student knows their state loves, and needs them — and we will create policies to help them thrive.”

Moore ran on a platform of representing all Marylanders regardless of political beliefs and socioeconomic status, defeating a crowded field of Democrats in the 2022 primary election. In November’s midterm election, he trounced his Republican rival, former state Rep. Dan Cox, earning about 65% of more than 2 million votes to Cox’s 32%. 

He succeeds former Gov. Larry Hogan, a popular two-term Republican who defied expectations to win the governor’s mansion in 2014 in heavily blue Maryland. 

Moore, a Montgomery County native, is a best-selling author and U.S. Army combat veteran. 

He has spoken about decreasing the cost of higher education. In his speech Wednesday, he said he wanted to “end the myth” young people must attend college to be successful. 

The state has already made some progress on this. In March 2022, Hogan eliminated the requirement for state employees to have a four-year bachelor’s degree, opening up the accessibility of government jobs. 

“Every student in Maryland will know that there are many paths to success and fulfillment — and those paths begin with high-quality, highly inclusive schools from Pre-K to 12th grade,” Moore said. 

Moore has said he wants to help Morgan State University become the first historically Black institution in the country with an R1 designation by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. R1-designated institutions have very high levels of research activity, graduate at least 20 doctoral degrees, and spend $5 million on research annually. 

“This will not only create new opportunities for Black students to obtain undergraduate and doctoral degrees in these critical fields, but it will also make Maryland more competitive for business, job and talent recruitment and produce tremendous economic impacts for Maryland and Baltimore City,” a Moore campaign document reads. 

Towson University is currently trying to reach R2 status, which means an institution has high research activity. Towson Provost Melanie Perrault, who attended the inauguration, said the university is confident it will reach the mark soon. 

Perrault, who will serve as Towson’s interim president starting next month, said Moore’s inauguration was an exciting event for the state.

“It’s our celebration of democracy and everything that we believe in at Towson with civic engagement,” Perrault said. “It’s just a really exciting time to see a transition and celebration of a new governor and a new lieutenant governor.”

In addition to Perrault, hundreds of attendees flocked to Annapolis for Moore’s inauguration, among them state and federal officials and celebrities. Oprah Winfrey, a friend of Moore’s, introduced him during the ceremony.

She said during her remarks that Moore’s dedication to public service as a former nonprofit executive will aid him in his leadership, despite that he has never held public office before. 

“This might be his first day as an elected official, but Wes Moore has been a public servant his entire adult life,” Winfrey said. 

Newly minted Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller took the oath of office Wednesday as well. Miller, a former Maryland state delegate from Montgomery County, is the first Asian American lieutenant governor and first immigrant to be elected to statewide office. 

“I am humbled to join [Moore] on this journey,” Miller said to Wednesday’s crowd. “To serve the state we love, for the people we love, in a place we call home.” 

She added, echoing Moore, that the administration will work to fight for underprivileged families who lack access to resources. 

“We will address the inequities of the past, and build a Maryland where everyone will thrive,” Miller said. 

The ceremony also saw performances by Anne Arundel County native Parijita Bastola as well as the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club’s performance of “America the Beautiful,” with direction from Aaron Smith. The Morgan State University Choir sang “God Bless America,” following remarks made from Miller.


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