I had the distinct pleasure of attending Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s inauguration and celebratory reception last night along with a huge crowd of excited and expectant citizens and elected officials, including Governor John Bel Edwards and his wife, Donna. The inauguration was filled with lovely moments, beginning with a stunning rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the Inaugural Chorus who begun singing in the back of the theater and then proceeded up the aisles before finishing the powerful song onstage.
There was the Invocation, Presentation of the Colors by the Honor Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem before Master of Ceremonies, Sylvia Weatherspoon, announced that there would be a surprise video chronicling Mayor Broome’s decades of service leading up to this point. Because she had lost almost all of her precious photos and memories in the Great Flood, it had been difficult to locate pictures and clips to use in the video but they were able to create a beautiful montage that had us all in laughter as well as tears.
When it was time for her swearing in and then her address, we were all on the edge of our seats. After she took the oath the entire theater was filled with thunderous applause and cheering as Mayor-President Broome was warmly hugged by her husband and took the podium. Her words were rich and full of hope. She spoke of both equality for all citizens and unity. She explained that the strips of fabric that had been handed out at the door symbolized how we would all come together like a colorful, dynamic quilt as a community. She promised that her commitment to unity was not simply a campaign slogan, and that she would come against any attempt to divide our city along racial, socioeconomic or geographical lines.
At this point the crowd erupted in praise and cheering.
She spoke of giving everyone a fair shot and opportunities for success and she committed to working diligently with law enforcement to keep everyone safe, while maintaining the dignity and offering respect to every citizen. She also announced that her cabinet would be participating in the Dialogue on Race course to gain a better understanding of how to work together to best unite the city and understand the differences and dynamics we all bring to the table. Overall, her message was one of inclusion and hard work and I am certain that she will see her vision accomplished.
Following the inauguration was the Celebrate Baton Rouge reception at the Hilton. Live bands performed, we danced and ate and celebrated our great city and her new mayor together. I took my daughter out into a less crowded area to find a place to sit and we saw Mayor-President Broome begin to make her way in. She moved through the line of people shaking hands, smiling and making personal statements to everyone she came in contact with. When she got to us she stopped and bent over to talk to my little girl. She had thousands of people to meet but she made my baby feel like the most special person in the room.
Sharon has that way about her. She is accessible and reachable and so incredibly down to earth. She takes the idea of public service seriously and has repeatedly said that she believes in a servant leadership style. I wholeheartedly believe that she will serve our entire city and parish with diligence and grace, and she will not back down. Even in the midst of a divisive election full of mudslinging and personal attacks, she kept her head held high and never stooped low. She maintained an attitude of respect and love and I know she will continue that in years to come. As a woman of faith she stands firm in the promises of God and never holds back in her adoration for Him or for His people.
Best of luck to our new Mayor-President, Sharon Weston Broome. All of us at Baton Rouge Moms wish you the very best and look forward to the leadership and light you will bring to our city.