Fighting for the promise: Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb marks his transition into office

Justin Bibb was ceremonially sworn in as Mayor of Cleveland at a ceremony with about 100 guests and media representatives this past Saturday, Jan. 8 at Public Auditorium.

The event was livestreamed on Facebook as Esperanza executive director Victor Ruiz served as master of ceremonies.

Congresswoman Shontel BrownBibb was officially sworn in as the 58th Mayor of Cleveland last Monday, Jan. 3, just after midnight at the Cleveland Public Library's East 131st Street branch in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, where he grew up.

"Walking into city hall on Monday, I walked into the footsteps of iconic leaders like Carl Stokes and Michael R. White," Bibb said of his first day in office. "I follow the longest serving mayor in Cleveland's history, Frank G. Jackson, and the magnitude of that moment just five days ago truly moved me.

Bibb said his goal was to make more progress than mistakes and more friends than enemies when he addressed the group on Saturday. "We will work together
—we have to work together—to deliver the promise of the future of Cleveland." 

Saturday’s event began with jazz performances by students in Cuyahoga County Community College’s music program, followed by the presentation of the colors by the Cleveland Division of Police Honor Guard and the pledge of allegiance spoken by a member of the group Students for Bibb.

The Rev. Dr. Jawazna K. Calvin of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church led the gathering in prayer to open the ceremony, while Cleveland Metropolitan School District All-City Arts student Kendall Skillern sang the Star Spangled Banner from Karamu House.

People close to Bibb spoke at the event, including his mother, Charlene Nichols, and  U.S. Congresswoman Shontel Brown, who introduced Bibb.

Nichols held the bible while Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody Stewart administered the oath of office.

Tina FarmerLocal gospel singer Tina Farmer sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” while Cuyahoga County poet laureate Miss Honey Bell-Bey and The Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word performed.

When Bibb took the stage for his inaugural address, he spoke about a number of issues affecting Cleveland while also giving a message of optimism.

He emphasized his election victory promise that that “we would take that oath together—all of us.”

Bibb spoke about gun violence and police accountability, saying there should be confidence when individuals call the police. “We must fight for safer streets by working to pay our officers more and give them the tools and technology to keep our neighborhoods secure,” he said, later adding, “Cleveland’s comeback can truly be rooted in putting Cleveland’s people first.”

Bibb referenced his road to getting elected, noting, “my dream of becoming mayor started at 17 years old when I was a junior in high school.”

Cleveland Mayor Justin M. BibbBriefly speaking on COVID-19, he thanked Clevelanders for getting vaccinated and noted that his mayoral campaign grew at height of pandemic. “We knocked on thousands of doors and sent many text messages out,” he said.

In closing, Mayor Bibb drove his messages home. “We can achieve a safter, more equitable and more healthy Cleveland,” he said, closing with “Let’s keep fighting for the promise of what Cleveland can be together.”

Artist Amanda King, videographer Nick Petro, and ensemble Opus 216 presented an artistic video before the Rev. Larry Howard, pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church delivered the benediction.

Justin Bibb takes office as Cleveland Mayor following former Mayor Frank Jackson’s 16-year tenure.

Read more articles by Evan Gallagher.

Evan Gallagher has always loved writing and using his creative side for a career is a dream come true. A self-proclaimed news junkie, Gallagher passionately keeps up with current events. When he’s not writing, he enjoys running, playing guitar and keyboard, and spending time with friends.  Gallagher is a journalism major, specializing in news and information, at the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Gallagher is the director of PR/social media for The New Political, one of OU’s online publications, and writes for All Campus Public Radio (ACRN).