Jan. 20 marked an Inauguration Day like no other — there was a deluge of security measures because of the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol; Donald Trump became the first outgoing president in 152 years to skip his successor’s inauguration; and history was made when Kamala D. Harris, the country’s first female vice president, was sworn in.

But perhaps most obvious difference was that this event took place during a pandemic, one that has killed more than 400,000 Americans. While the event usually has hundreds of thousands of people swarm the nation’s capital, President Biden and Vice President Harris’s inauguration was limited to about 1,000 attendees.

Still, many people were watching from their homes, on their phones or via computers at their workplaces. We wanted to know what was taking place in intimate, candid messages between friends, so we reached out to women across the country who were willing to share their group texts from the inauguration. From a set of Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters (Harris’s sorority) to a group of young climate activists, here’s what they had to say.

Meet the group texts:

A group of Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters living in the Detroit metro area.

A group of Republican women who voted for Biden and live in Ohio.

A group of LGBTQ college students living in New York City.

A group of teen climate activists located across the country.

A pair of Indian friends who recently graduated college and live in Chicago and on the East Coast.

Note: Given the format, last names have been redacted to allow participants to express their political views openly.

Ahead of the inaugural events

On Wednesday morning, Trump officially left the White House and gave a final speech before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He praised what he called his administration’s accomplishments and said, “We will be back in some form.”

From the group of Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters:

January 20, 2021

Marjorie

It's here! Today is such an amazing day!

Lanie

This is EPIC!!!!!!

Latoya

I'm SO super excited & proud today! I am serving much AKAtude... (with pink & green smiles).

Marjorie

Yes! I slept with one eye open like it was the first day of school. Excited for us and the world! New day....new hope....new leadership!

Lanie

It was so hard for me to sleep last night!!!


From the group of Republican women who voted for Biden (as they watched Trump’s final speech):

January 20, 2021

Mary

Okay waking up to a headline about Trump pardoning Lil Wayne seems like the plot of an SNL sketch.

Lisa

Hahaha and everyone is disappointed he didn't pardon Joe Exotic.

Mary

Hahahaha how could he leave him out? That show was one of the early 2020 highlights

Lisa

I have Fox on now because I've had a crush on Bill Hemmer for half my life.

Mary

Yeah I've got nbc live on YT on

Lisa

Melania is so beautiful

Mary

I hope she divorces him lol

Mary

I love her dress though today, she looks great

Natalie

I think she will

Lisa

His tone seems really good. He's not angry he just seems somber and grateful.

Natalie

All of those family members not wearing masks

Mary

Agreed. But I don't like the "we'll be back in some form"

Mary

The mask thing is ridiculous at this point, but hey they're consistent


From the group of LGBTQ college students:

January 20, 2021

Lexie

This has been the longest 4 years EVER like thinking back to when Trump was elected feels like it was so long ago.

Ted

It honestly feels like it's been my whole life

Lexie

I feel that though like I feel like I don't even remember Obama as a president

Harris and Biden arrive at the U.S. Capitol

Biden and Harris’s families arrived at the Capitol around 11:30 a.m. with other notable figures — including former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and their families. Much attention was paid to fashion choices. Harris, former first lady Michelle Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, for example, all wore purple — a sign of bipartisanship. And Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) donned the pearls of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress.

From the group of Republican women who voted for Biden:

January 20, 2021

Mary

Awww Eugene Goodman!

Lisa

Oh my gosh am I going to cry? I might cry.

Natalie

Probably

Lisa

She's a woman. Like us. We could do that.

Mary

I know I'm getting choked up!


From the group of AKA sisters:

January 20, 2021

Latoya

Regal in purple!!!

Danielle

I'm about to cry

Ivy

I love Dr. Jill too!

Lanie

I love me some Dr. Jill!!!

Maria

Love the purple

Lanie

This is HAPPENING!!!

Latoya

Ok I'm officially a mess!

Ivy

Madam VP got real heels!!!


From the group of climate activists:

January 20, 2021

Sophia

I can't believe the day is finally here omg

Amanda

Guys. Jill looks so good

Sabrina

Jill became Cinderella tn in her sparkly dress

Sophia

Yes because this is a magical day

Anais

I'm so happy we have someone who believes in climate change in office

Sophia

Yah I hope he starts working with us and other young climate activists from day 1

Sophia

Mom is crying

The inauguration ceremony

As former presidents and Supreme Court justices took their seats, the official ceremony began. It included performances of the national anthem by Lady Gaga and a medley of “This Land Is Your Land” and “America, the Beautiful” by Jennifer Lopez. To much fanfare, Amanda Gorman, the first Youth Poet Laureate, also read her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

From the group of AKA sisters:

January 20, 2021

Lutiebelle

Jesus the Obamas are grace personified!!! Just fine!!! Hand in hand!!! I love it!

Danielle

Michelle FLOATED

Marjorie

Michelle - our Forever First Lady!

Ivy

Whew chile!! Black women, black women...

Latoya

The Obamas are American royalty!

Ivy

Biden family...love the monochrome colors but they just don't set it out like we could!

From the group of LGBTQ college students:

January 20, 2021

Lexie

LADY GAGA

Ted

Her dress is so so cute!!

Ted

Giving me Hunger Games vibes

Lexie

This whole event is so extra. Like a gold mic? Lmao

Milenka

The fact that they even got lady gaga is kinda hilarious. Like this is so dramatic, the camera work, everything

Lexie

Do they have interpreters at this event?

Ted

God I'd hope so

Harris’s historic swearing-in

On Wednesday, Harris didn’t only become the first female vice president — she also became the first Black person and Indian American to hold an office that had been previously occupied solely by White men. This part of the ceremony was also history-making: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the nation’s highest court, swore Harris in.

From the group of AKA sisters:

January 20, 2021

Ivy

OMG!

Lanie

HERSTORY!!!!

Ivy

Lord Jesus protect and guide her!

Maria

Tears

Maria

Yes Joe!! Love his love for her

Latoya

Tears flowing...Yes. Joe is so proud of Kamala!


From the pair of Indian friends who recently graduated college:

January 20, 2021

Kalyani

I did get a lil emosh when Kamala Harris got sworn in

Raina

They mispronounced her name ???

Raina

Which is

Raina

Crazy

Kalyani

I know I CRINGED

Raina

Was it Sotomayor

Kalyani

Yeah RIP

Raina

SMH

Kalyani

At least she's got the full Indian experience

Raina

Was it fun to watch at least

Raina

LOL

Raina

We finally got an immigrant child in the WH

Raina

Ok I still can't believe this is happening

Raina

I didn't think I'd care

Raina

But I do!

Kalyani

Me too omg!!

Raina

My cold dead heart !

Raina

Feels something !

Biden’s inaugural address

In his first speech as president of the United States, Biden emphasized the need to unify as a country. He called on the country to end its “uncivil war” and embrace a united front as we contend with the coronavirus pandemic, a reckoning on racial justice, a struggling economy and more.

From the group of LGBTQ college students:

January 20, 2021

Ted

JOE IS OFFICIALLY PRESIDENT THANK GOD

Lexie

HELL YEAH DUDEEE

Ted

That will probably be the one and only time I will be happy yet another old white man is in power


From the group of Republicans who voted for Biden:

January 20, 2021

Lisa

Joe: What's the thing all Americans love and brings us together? Me: Sports! Joe: Opportunity, liberty, truth, etc.

Mary

Hahaha

Mary

Ooo "uncivil war"

Mary

Nice Joe

Lisa

That's one of the striking differences between 45 & 46. Trump only cared about the people who voted for him. Always about the 74 million, not about everyone else.


From the group of AKA sisters:

January 20, 2021

Marjorie

Let's go Joe!!

Marjorie

Yes Joe!!! Say that!!! He's looking and sounding real presidential!!!

Toni

Yes!!! Thank you Joe

Latoya

This is a proud day in America. I am overjoyed!

Ivy

The UNITED States of America!

Toni

Yes! I love that he said that! His whole soul. Yes this isn't new but it's time to address the real issues of race!!!

Marjorie

OMG! His words... give us hope Mr. President!

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