In making history, Wes Moore walks through door opened by Md.’s first Black statewide officeholder

History will unfold in Maryland when Wes Moore is formally sworn in as Maryland’s first Black governor — just the third Black governor ever elected in the United States.

In reaching that point, Moore followed in the footsteps of Michael Steele, who became the first Black candidate ever elected to statewide office in Maryland, when he served as lieutenant governor starting in 2002.

“I understand and appreciate what it means to be the first through that door,” Steele said. “You try to hold the door as wide open as you can for others to follow behind you.”

While political discourse is often toxic these days, Steele said the inauguration would be a breath of fresh air.

“If we can take a few hours and put the vitriol behind us and focus on the moment, particularly the history of the moment, that’s always a good thing,” Steele said.

Steele, a Republican, will join Moore, a Democrat, in a small gathering just before the inauguration. They will visit a location in Annapolis that marks the spot where enslaved Africans once arrived in the country.

It will be a symbolic moment.

“We will commemorate that journey from the enslaved African American to the present day, where we have African American leadership,” Steele said.

Steele called Wes Moore’s victory “part of an ongoing journey and struggle.”

“It’s progress, but it speaks to the slowness of that progress,” said Steele. “It speaks to a lot of the challenges that are still remaining for people of color.”

Earlier this month, Anthony Brown was sworn in as Maryland’s first Black attorney general, pledging to work on increasing equity and dismantling barriers in the way of opportunities for all of the state’s citizens.

Brown — a Democrat who is a former congressman, lieutenant governor and state legislator — noted the historic nature of his victory in November, as well as the historic election of Moore.

“Governor-elect Moore, your election is historic in both the state and for the nation, and I look forward to serving with you, alongside you, as we dismantle the barriers (to) opportunities presented to far too many Marylanders,” Brown said in a crowded house of delegates chamber in the Maryland State House, The Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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