Biden-Harris Inauguration Signals Opportunity for Economic and Racial Justice

The following is a statement from Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP).

January 21, 2021, Washington D.C.—We at CLASP celebrate and welcome the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at this critical moment for our country. We look forward to the new directions that President Biden signaled in his inaugural remarks and commend the actions he took yesterday on the first day of his presidency to advance racial equity and reverse deeply harmful Trump Administration actions on immigration. And we celebrate Vice President Harris’s inauguration as the first woman, South Asian American, and Black person to hold her office. We stand ready to work with the Biden-Harris Administration to move the country forward to economic and racial justice.

We are eager to join with President Biden and Vice President Harris to advance a plan that will address the economic and health crises that have devastated communities of color and that will tackle the long, deeply painful history of systemic racism. In his inaugural address, President Biden acknowledged the cry for racial justice by saying that the “dream for justice will be deferred no longer.”

The new administration takes office under the shadow of the intersecting crises of economic recession and the pandemic—which has taken the lives of more than 400,000 Americans—and the deep racial division in the country marked by the attack on our U.S. Capitol two weeks ago by a mob of white supremacist insurrectionists.

These serious health, economic, and racial challenges demand immediate and large-scale response. The administration’s bold economic relief plan—the American Rescue Act—is a crucial step in centering the needs of those who have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic—children, people of color, families, workers with low incomes, and people living in poverty.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Day One immigration executive orders are a critical and welcome departure from four years of divisive rhetoric and relentless attacks on our immigrant community that have severely harmed millions of children, families, and workers—many of whom have been critical in fighting the pandemic as essential workers.

We are heartened that the administration understands the need do act with both urgency and boldness to overcome these crises and move the nation forward. In its every word and deed, the new administration must prioritize the needs of people with low incomes and people of color. CLASP is eager to partner with the Biden-Harris Administration to realize the promises they have made to the American people.

22-year-old Amanda Gorman, the first Youth Poet Laureate, delivered a moving reflection on this moment in history, with a powerful message in her poem, The Hill We Climb:

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.”