Gov. Kathy Hochul and NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes Credit: Don Pollard/Office of Go.v Kathy Hochul photo

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and State Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James were sworn in on Jan. 1 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Dr. Hazel Dukes for a her-storic day.

The ceremony included speakers from different types of religions, musical performances featuring Black musicians and singers, elected officials who gave impassioned speeches, and a stirring poetry recital by 8-year-old Harlem native and Poet Laureate of the Inaugural Ceremonies Kayden Hern.

Dukes, who just celebrated her 90th birthday, started with a “moment of personal privilege” to congratulate all the speakers and electeds in attendance before swearing in Hochul. She jokingly referred to people like James, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York City Mayor Eric Adams as “all of my children.”

“To stand to administer the oath, her mother is not here, but she chose me,” said Dukes. “What a great day for a woman who’s [90] years of age, African American, born in Montgomery, Alabama.” 

Dukes reportedly used two bibles to conduct the oath-taking, with one belonging to her family and the other borrowed from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. The library bible belonged to the Roosevelt family and was first published in the 1600s in Dutch.

“As I stand before you, humbled by this honor, I’m ready to take on the fight,” said Hochul.

Hochul officially became the first elected female governor in New York for a full term. She had previously been in office since August 2021 as a replacement for former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned due to sexual harassment allegations. She vowed to fight against hate crimes, gun violence, systemic racism, affordability issues, anti-abortion sentiments and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

James was alongside Hochul taking the oath of office, as well as Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado and DiNapoli. 

“The reality is that we all bleed red and we should be united as one,” said James in her acceptance speech. 

Former Assemblymember for the 56th Assembly District in Brooklyn Annette M. Robinson physically held the bible of James’s late mother while U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer read the oath. Member of James’s family were also on the stage. James was first elected to office in 2018, and is the first Black person and woman to hold the position.

“Tish was made for this moment,” said Schumer. “She wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. As I like to say in Brooklyn, where Tish and I have both been raised, she got here the old-fashioned way: She worked her way up the ladder step by step. She earned it.” 

Despite controversy brewing among Senate Democrats over Hochul’s choice of Hector LaSalle for chief judge, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins thanked Hochul for making history and James for being a great ally. She also called DiNapoli a long-time friend and a “steady force for public service” as the state’s second-longest serving comptroller.

“The charge is great for all of us. We couldn’t have a better team,” said Stewart-Cousins on stage as she swore in DiNapoli. 

U.S. Rep Ritchie Torres from the Bronx did the swearing in for Delgado.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.

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