Who is attending Biden’s inauguration?

Figures from religious leaders to the United States’ first youth poet laureate will take part in Wednesday’s ceremony   

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 20 January 2021 15:12 GMT
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Joe Biden will be sworn in as United States president on Wednesday, in an inauguration ceremony billed as a new “beginning” for a country torn apart by the election, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of the outgoing occupant of the White House.

It will also mark the culmination of a lifetime in politics for Mr Biden, who has chosen trusted religious and community leaders to participate in the ceremonies. As has Kamala Harris, who will become the country’s first female, Black and South Asian vice president.  

The Inaugural Planning Committee said Wednesday will show diversity and youth, and "the beginning of a new national journey, one that restores the soul of America and brings Americans together".

Here’s everyone who will appear at the inauguration, alongside other notable guests such as former US presidents, members of Congress, and several celebrities. 

Follow Inauguration Day 2021 – live: Bidens appear for first time and attend Mass ‘after delaying for Trump’

Sonia Sotomayor

Kamala Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday by the Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated to serve on the court by president Barack Obama in 2009.

The vice president-elect was said to have chosen Justice Sotomayor, the country’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, because the two women were both former prosecutors – Ms Harris in California, and Ms Sotomayor in New York – as well as “firsts” in their own fields, ABC News reported.

On Wednesday, Ms Sotomayor will swear-in Ms Harris as the United States’ first Black, South Asian and female vice president, in what will be her second time at an inauguration, having sworn-in Joe Biden for his second term as vice president to Mr Obama in 2013.

Regina Shelton

Kamala Harris will use the Bible owned by Regina Shelton as she is sworn in as vice president.

A “second mother” to Ms Harris and her sister Maya, Regina Shelton knew the siblings as school children, and attended church with them on Sundays, when their mother worked away as a cancer scientist.

They played with Ms Shelton’s own children, and became close. Ms Harris and her sister referred to Ms Shelton’s home in Berkley, California, as “the house”.  

Ms Shelton, who passed away in 1999, was said to have introduced the vice president-elect to the Bible, and has been recognised by Ms Harris as an enduring presence in her life.

The bible owned by Ms Shelton was used by Ms Harris when she was sworn-in as a United States Senator and California Attorney General, and on Wednesday, Ms Harris will again use Ms Shelton’s bible as she is sworn in as vice president.

She once wrote of the woman’s influence: “In office and into the fight, I carry Mrs Shelton with me always”.

Thurgood Marshall

Kamala Harris will be sworn-in as vice president with two Bibles, one owned by Regina Shelton, and the other by Thurgood Marshall, the late civil rights leader and Supreme Court Justice.  

She once wrote that Mr Marshall was among her “greatest heroes”, having worked as a lawyer amid the civil rights movement, ABC News reported.

Kamala Harris (right) as a student at Howard University
Kamala Harris (right) as a student at Howard University (AP)

Both attended law school at Howard University, a historically Black university, of which Ms Harris wrote: "I wanted to get off on the right foot, and what better place to do that, I thought, than at Thurgood Marshall's alma mater?"

Leo O'Donovan

Reverend Leo O’Donovan will deliver the invocation prayer at Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, having previously presided over the funeral of the president-elect's son Beau, in 2015.

The Biden family are longtime friends of Mr O’Donovan, who formerly served as president of Georgetown University in Washington DC. Mr Biden has made many appearances at the institution in the past, and as vice president.

Mr O’Donovan has also condemned Donald Trump, whom he said showed “a lack of compassion” towards refugees, according to The Washingtonian.  

Andrea Hall

The career firefighter will lead the Pledge of Allegiance at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, almost seven years after becoming the first Black woman to be promoted to Fire Captain in Fulton County, Georgia.

The 47-year-old also serves as the President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920 in Georgia, the first major labour group to have backed Mr Biden’s presidential run.

Tony Allen, the CEO of the inauguration committee, told CNN that the participation of Ms Hall and others showed "one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation and will help honour and celebrate the time-honoured traditions".

Amanada Gorman

The United States’ first national youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman will deliver a poetry reading to the nation, in what will be another historic first for the 22 year-old, who was elected to the position in 2017 by UrbanWord and the Library of Congress.

She has cited two poems read at Barack Obama's inauguration – Richard Blanco's 2013 "One Today" and Elizabeth Alexander's 2009 "Praise Song for the Day" – as being among the sources for her inaugural poem, which she said was finished after watching Donald Trump’s supporters storm the Capitol on 6 January, CNN reported.  

As with President elect-Joe Biden, the youth poet laureate was said to have overcome a childhood speech impediment, which she said she worked through by singing songs from the Broadway hit, Hamilton. She graduated from Harvard with a degree in Sociology.

Silvester Beaman

A pastor from Joe Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Silvester Beamen will deliver the benediction at Wednesday’s ceremony.

He is another longtime friend of the president-elect and his family, having been an ally of Beau Biden while he served as Delaware Attorney General, before his death in 2015.

Mr Beaman, the Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, told Action News of his participation that he was “representing a whole lot”.

"I began to feel the significance of standing in that very same spot, a building erected by slaves, desecrated by this [pro-Trump] mob. And yet here we are. Our legacy as a nation when it comes to the peaceful transfer of power is still intact,” said the pastor.

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