TRANSFER OF POWER

As a new group of Florida’s political leadership takes the reins of the state, Black Floridians ‒ including supporters of President Donald Trump ‒ were notable by their presence.

PHOTOS BY CHARLES W. CHERRY II / FLORIDA COURIER

BY THE FLORIDA COURIER STAFF

TALLAHASSEE ‒ On a sunny day with 70-degree weather in the state capital, Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of the state Cabinet ‒ returning Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Attorney General Ashley Moody ‒ were formally sworn into their jobs during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the steps of the Old Capitol.

The day also saw Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez become the highest- ranking Hispanic woman elected in Florida history.

Day of activities

Events Tuesday began with an 8 a.m. prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University and climaxed with Florida’s 46th Governor’s Inaugural Ball at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. African-Americans made their presence felt at both the formal inauguration ceremony as well as at the Inaugural Ball.

Rev. Gary Johnson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was founded in Atlanta by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the invocation.

“God, You chose a servant to represent the state of Florida in the personality of Ron DeSantis,” Johnson prayed. As he thanked God for Florida’s recent gubernatorial leadership by name, he only mentioned Republican governors: Mel Martinez, Jeb Bush and Rick Scott, ignoring Democratic governors Bob Graham ‒ who was sitting on the platform ‒ and the late Lawton Chiles.

Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, the highest-ranking Black female elected official in Florida history thus far, was also seated at the platform just a few feet away from outgoing Gov. Scott. Scott demanded and got Carroll’s resignation in 2013; she was subsequently cleared by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement of any criminal or civil wrongdoing.

Standing ovation

The inauguration ceremony was highlighted by a stirring version of “God Bless America” by song stylist Lady Blue, which brought the crowd to its feet. Rev. R.B. Holmes, a Tallahasseebased minister and Black media owner, closed with a benediction.

The mild temperatures held through Tuesday evening, as Republicans, lobbyists, DeSantis and Donald Trump supporters, and others celebrated in formal off-the-shoulder gowns and mostly black-and-white tuxedos at the Inaugural Ball.

Only a handful of members of the Florida Black Legislative Caucus ‒ which consists almost solely of Democrats ‒ attended.

As a long line of people waited patiently for their “grip and grin” pictures with the new governor, a shorter line formed for a picture with a Virginia visitor, Aisha Owmby, and her fashion designer, Andre Soriano. The six-foot-tall Owmby was a commanding figure in her Donald Trump dress, one of a number of Soriano creations that women wore at the event.

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