Jan. 21—As Joe Biden promised in his Wednesday inauguration to be a president for all Americans and not just those who voted him into office, a south side Mexican immigrant wondered if she would be treated as an equal citizen, a Black chef on the northeast side predicted things wouldn’t change much, and a self-described “redneck” sat in his pickup truck and stared at the state Capitol in disbelief.
At 78 years old, Biden won the popular vote by 7 million votes over Donald Trump and secured the electoral college to become the oldest United States president to take the oath.
“And I pledge this to you,” Biden said in his inaugural address to a politically fractured nation. “I will be a president for all Americans. All Americans. And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
TV screens across Oklahoma City showed live video of Biden’s address to the nation, including footage from a Spanishlanguage feed that aired on a TV behind the counter at El Parque de Don Chava, an ice cream shop at SW 29 and S May Avenue.
Giovana Torres’ Mexican immigrant family runs the shop. Torres is a self-described “DACA immigrant.”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows roughly 650,000 immigrants — whose parents brought them to the United States when they were children — to live and work here without fearing deportation.
“We as Latinos expect a president that will fight for equality,” Torres said. “I am happy that now DACA has opened I’m given the chance as a person, not just as an immigrant. I feel like here we don’t have a voice.”
In his address to the nation, Biden celebrated the survival of democracy, honored Americans as good people and promised to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, joblessness and “racial justice.”
“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words,” Biden said. “It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity, unity.”
At the popular Ice Event Center & Grill in the northeast part of Oklahoma City, Rodney James, a 53-year-old Black chef, took a break from behind the counter and glanced at the inauguration ceremony.
James said he expects government to remain “the same,” but hoped the political animosity among Americans would subside. Maybe Black people wouldn’t have to wonder if a white person they meet hates them, and a white person won’t have to wonder if a Black man thinks he is racist.
“I think we’ll get back to some calmness,” James said. “Calmness between us, between you and me.”
Biden pledged Wednesday to bring the country together.
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”
Meanwhile, Ken Holland, a 62-year-old, self-described “redneck” dressed in overalls, sat in his pickup at the Capitol, the site of numerous red and blue rallies last year.
Holland’s truck flew three Trump flags, one American flag, one Oklahoma flag and one Gadsden flag, with its coiled rattlesnake and the motto “Don’t tread on me” printed on a yellow field.
“I think they’re all crooked,” Holland said, occasionally looking at the Capitol. “There is no way you can tell me he won that election.”
Holland said he voted for Trump because the former president “stayed out of my pocket” and didn’t “take (stuff) off nobody.”
“If he’s a liar and a crook, he’s the best lying crook that wanted the job,” Holland said.