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The Inaugural Ceremony for the Honorable Karen R. Bass looked like a Hollywood event, as many big names in California politics were on hand to celebrate Bass’ appointment as the 67th Speaker of the California State Assembly.
After a lengthy introduction of the politicians on hand, four-time Emmy award winning actress Alfre Woodard opened the ceremony at the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento with a poem dedicated to Speaker Bass, who is the first African American woman in the nation to serve in this powerful state elected role.
Congresswoman Diane Watson, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 66th Speaker of the California State Assembly Fabian Núñez gave speeches praising Bass’ hard work and dedication.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson escorted Speaker Bass to the podium.
After being sworn in, Assembly Speaker Bass gave a very moving speech.
“Members, as Mr. Speaker (Núñez) pointed out, I do feel the weight of history on my shoulders today—as the first African American woman in U.S. history elected to head a state legislative body,” Speaker Bass said.
“If we could only harness the power of our common humanity, I don’t think there’s anything we couldn’t do for the people of this state. And members, they truly do need us now. People are losing their homes. People are losing their jobs. People are scared about the future in a state that should be all about hope for the future.”
Speaker Bass pointed out the positives and negatives in California.
“We represent California, the 8th largest economy on the planet. If California was our own nation, we would be better off that Russia or India or Spain.
“More than 50,000 companies in our districts export products around the globe. 20% of all U.S. trade, about a half a trillion dollars, passes in some way through California. Workers at our ports handle more than 40% of the nation’s container cargo.
“We are a $94 billion tourism industry and the nation’s top travel destination. Millions of visitors come here every year to enjoy 1,100 miles of coast and 300-foot redwood trees.
“The laptops on our desk should remind all of us that the California visionaries, who founded Silicon Valley in a garage, have changed the way the world lives, learns, and leads. Thanks to California you can find anything you could possible want on Google...and then when you get tired of it you can turn around and sell it on Ebay.
“Our 80,000 farms and ranches produce more than $30 billion worth of goods. We export more than $10 billion of those goods, 350 commodities in all, everything from almonds and artichokes to turkeys and tangerines.
“California is a giant of a state, but we are a giant in crisis. Over the last two months I have visited with business leaders in the Silicon Valley who are relocating overseas, I’ve met with farmers in the Central Valley who can not afford to plant crops, resulting in the abandonment of the workforce in nearby small towns. I have visited schools and met with teachers and school board members in San Diego and Norwalk where teachers received layoff notices. I have met with students who are saddled with debt when they finish college. We should be able to provide more opportunity than that for the next generation.
“California is a giant in crisis, and now it is up to us to solve that crisis. It is up to us to take the fear out of California’s future.”
Speaker Bass ended her speech by saying, “Thank you members. Let’s get to work.”