The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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11:07 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Poet Amanda Gorman has something in common with President Biden: a speech impediment

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20.
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20. Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman, the nation's first-ever youth poet laureate, shares one thing in common with President Joe Biden: They are part of the "speech difficulty club," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Biden has a lifelong struggle with stuttering and has said that he "still occasionally, when I find myself really tired," catches himself stuttering.

Gorman said she had a speech impediment growing up and struggled to say the letter R.

"So, for me, I use my self-expression to get my voice on the page," she said.

To overcome her struggle, Gorman said she practiced spoken word and recited words out loud until she was able to teach herself how to pronounce the letters.

She even used "Hamilton"'s "Aaron Burr, Sir," which is packed with Rs, for practice.

"That's been a huge part of my speech pathology. It's why I included it in the inaugural poem. Also beyond that I think 'Hamilton' is such a great American cultural piece of what it means to be a better county. It was hard for me not to just copy and paste 'My Shot,' and email it the inaugural committee and be like here's my poem," Gorman said.

She went on to share her personal mantra.

"Whenever I perform — and I definitely did it this time — and I close my eyes and I say I'm the daughter of Black writers. We're descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world," Gorman said.

See more:

10:59 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Poet Amanda Gorman says Capitol riot inspired her to write a "message of hope, ingenuity and healing"

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20.
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Poet Amanda Gorman said she used the insurrection on Jan. 6 as a form of inspiration for the poem she read earlier today during the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

"I was not surprised at what happened I had seen the signs in the symptoms for awhile. I was not trying to turn a blind eye to that. But what it did, it energized me even more to believe that much more firmly, in a message of hope, ingenuity and healing. I thought that was the type of poem that I need to write, it is the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear," Gorman told CNN tonight.

Read Gorman's full poem here.

CNN's Anderson Cooper speaks with poet Amanda Gorman:

12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Biden and first lady watch massive fireworks display from the White House

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and their family watch fireworks from the White House after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on January 20.
President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and their family watch fireworks from the White House after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on January 20. Tom Brenner/Reuters

A display of fireworks over Washington, DC, closed out today's Inauguration Day events.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are on the Blue Room balcony above the White House South Lawn watching the fireworks. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are watching from the Lincoln Memorial as singer Katy Perry performs her song "Firework."

After taking the oath of office at the US Capitol earlier today, Biden and his family walked onto the White House grounds for the first time since he became President, as did Harris — who made history when she was sworn in as the first female, the first Black and first South Asian vice president of the United States.

The new President made unity a focus of his remarks today, as he urged Americans to come together to overcome the many challenges the nation currently faces.

"Today on this January day, my whole soul is in this — bringing American people together, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me in this cause," Biden said in his inaugural speech.

Speaking at the Lincoln Memorial during the "Celebrating America" concert, the President again called on the nation to unify and said he'd never been more optimistic about America than he is today.

"This is a great nation. We're a good people and [to] overcome the challenges in front of us requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity. It requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans," he said.

Biden concluded his remarks at the Lincoln Memorial promising to give his all to the job of being President.

"So thank you for this honor. I will give my all to you," Biden said.

CNN's Maeve Reston contributed reporting to this post.

Watch:

10:02 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Obama delivers a message of unity, saying Americans "have more in common than what separates us"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

In this screengrab, Former president Barack Obama speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Former president Barack Obama speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama delivered a message of unity this evening while speaking with former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in a video message recorded this afternoon as part of the "Celebrating America" inauguration concert.

"We have got to not just listen to folks we agree with, but listen to folks we don't," said the the nation's 44th president. "One of my fondest memories of the inauguration, was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me, and Laura Bush showed Michelle."

"It was a reminder, that we can have a fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other's common humanity and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us," Biden said.

"If in fact...we are looking for what binds us together, the American people are strong, there're tough, they can get through hardship and there's no problem they cannot solve, when we are working together," he said. "...I think all of us discovered that we are at our best when we are all moving in the same direction."

10:08 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

President Clinton's message to Biden: "You have spoken for us today. Now you will lead for us"

In this screengrab, former President Bill Clinton speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, former President Bill Clinton speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton reunited with former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush to share their best wishes for President Joe Biden and to talk about the importance of a peaceful transfer of power.

"I'm glad you're there. And I wish you well," Clinton said in his message to Biden. "You have spoken for us today. Now you will lead for us. And we're ready to march with you. Good luck, God bless you," Clinton said.

Clinton, standing alongside Obama and Bush, spoke about why it's important to have a peaceful transfer of power, saying that while the change can be unusual, it is a way to "come back to normalcy."

"We are both trying to come back to normalcy, deal with totally abnormal challenges, and do what we do best, which is try to make a more perfect union. It's an exciting time," he said.

The message was shown during the “Celebrating America” inaugural special.

9:57 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Former President Bush says he is "pulling for" Joe Biden's success

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Biden Inaugural Committee

Former President George W. Bush joined former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton in honoring Joe Biden as America's new leader.

"I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country," Bush said during a taped message aired this evening during the “Celebrating America” inaugural special. "America's a generous country, people of great hearts. All three of us were lucky to be the president of this country."

Bush added: "Mr. President, I'm pulling for your success. Your success is our country's success. God bless you."

10:08 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Vice President Harris: "We will rise up. This is American aspiration"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

In this screengrab, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In her first remarks to the nation as vice president, Kamala Harris highlighted American aspiration and said President Joe Biden has summoned the American people to look beyond crisis and aspire to unite.

"In many ways this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. We, not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration," Harris said.

Harris cited the accomplishments of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, who "saw a better future and built it with land grant colleges, and the transcontinental railroad."

She highlighted how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for racial and economic justice.

"A great experiment, takes great determination. The will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting. The same determination is being realized in America today," Harris noted.

"I see it in the scientists who are transforming the future. I see it in the parents who are nurturing generations to come and in the innovators, the educators, in everyone, everywhere who is building a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. This too is American aspiration. This is what President Joe Biden has called upon us to summon now. The courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good, to unite, to believe in ourselves, believe in our country, believe in what we can do together," Harris said.

9:47 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Chef José Andrés praises Americans stepping up to end hunger crisis: "We need longer tables, not higher walls"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

In this image from video, chef Jose Andres speaks during the Celebrating America event on Wednesday, January 20, following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
In this image from video, chef Jose Andres speaks during the Celebrating America event on Wednesday, January 20, following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Biden Inaugural Committee via AP

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés joined a chorus of celebrities at the “Celebrating America” inaugural special, calling for an end to hunger crisis. 

“Food is not just a luxury for the lucky few, it’s basic human right to live free from hunger, but today, we have a hunger crisis in America,” Andres said. “One in four of our neighbors is going hungry.”

Andrés, who has spent much of 2020 feeding people on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic, praised Americans who are stepping up "through food banks, churches and organizations” to help provide aid to thousands of people. 

“Food is the fastest way to rebuild our sense of community,” Andres added. “We can put people back to work preparing it. We can put lives back together by fighting hunger. We need everyone to join this fight. We need longer tables not higher walls.”

9:32 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

NASA astronauts celebrate Inauguration Day in space

In this screengrab, Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover Jr., Kate Rubins, and Michael S. Hopkins speak during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover Jr., Kate Rubins, and Michael S. Hopkins speak during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and American crew members from Expedition 64 celebrated Inauguration Day from the International Space Station roughly 200 miles above earth today.

"We're up here working with our international partners to find new scientific breakthroughs from improved vaccines to safer drinking water to help people all over the world. Just as we're celebrating two decades of global cooperation and space, it's truly an honor for us to celebrate America today. As we unite for this historic inaugural tradition that spans more than two centuries," Rubins said in a message played during the "Celebrating America" celebration.