By Casey Murray | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Gov. Gavin Newsom walks with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and their children across the Tower Bridge ahead of Newsom’s inauguration ceremony Jan. 6.
Gov. Gavin Newsom walks with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and their children across the Tower Bridge ahead of Newsom’s inauguration ceremony Jan. 6. Verbal Adam, OBSERVER

Gov. Gavin Newsom was sworn into office Jan. 6 for a second term after a march down Capitol Mall.

The march symbolized peaceful democracy in response to the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on the same date two years prior. Unity in the face of conservative politics was a theme during the inauguration.

“They sell fear and panic when it comes to crime and immigration, but they sell calm and indifference when the threat is greenhouse gasses destroying our planet, or big oil raking in windfall profits at your expense,” he said in his speech. “But California offers reason for hope.”

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom recited a poem written mostly in Spanish and the governor’s inaugural address featured several pointed digs at red states. He also spoke extensively on the history of inequality in California for different racial groups, including the internment of Japanese-Americans, genocide of Native Americans and racist housing practices.

Julius Thibodeaux-Hasan
Julius Thibodeaux-Hasan, a violence prevention worker with Movement 4 Life in Sacramento, stands in front of the California Capitol building before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s inauguration for his second term. Casey Murray, OBSERVER

“These are dark moments in California’s journey. But in the end, we confronted our errors with humility and conviction, paving the way for rights and freedom to prevail,” Newsom said.

Among the hundreds attending the festivities were activists, organizers and volunteers who support Newsom, including Sacramento-based Julius Thibodeaux-Hasan, a violence prevention worker with Movement 4 Life, and Michael Lynch, who works with youth of color at his organization, Improve Your Tomorrow.

Both said they support the governor and feel he’s working to move California in the right direction for Black people.

“He is invested in the equitable sort of policies we need to transform our state,” Lynch said. “California is our direct partner helping to invest in young men of color who have been left behind by the system.”

Thibodeaux-Hasan echoed that statement.

“I feel like Governor Newsom has always had an empathetic ear, and I feel like [it’s with] him being in a position of leadership that we’ve seen the most progress,” he said.

Both activists said they came out simply to show support. Thibodeaux-Hasan added that he always hopes to keep violence prevention at the forefront politically.

Also out to support were students from the College Corps, a state program designed to help students attend college debt-free while volunteering with community organizations. India Lewis and Alayssia Townsell are both part of that program at UCLA.

“We’re excited,” Lewis said. “Hopefully we have a conversation and we’re just excited for the new year and the new policies.”

Alayssia Townsell (left) and India Lewis
Alayssia Townsell (left) and India Lewis were invited to witness Gov. Gavin Newsom’s inauguration because of their participation in California’s College Corps program, in which students receive scholarships to attend college and partner with community organizations. Casey Murray, OBSERVER

Both hoped they’d get a chance to speak with Newsom about the work they’ve been doing across California and said they wanted him to run for president.

“Newsom for president,” they both said, only half jokingly.

Of course, not everyone feels so positively about Newsom, but it does seem he has fairly wide support among Black voters. When Newsom faced a recall, Black leaders held events to express their support for him, and one 2018 poll showed that most Black voters supported him, with 34% holding a “very favorable” viewpoint.

Regardless, he has another four years to show all California voters what he can do.

Casey Murray

Casey Murray