Kasim Reed became Atlanta’s mayor today at a ceremony at The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein conducted the swearing-in at the event that began with a song from the Howard University choir, Reed’s alma mater.
Reed’s first day as mayor began at Ben Hill United Methodist Church in southwest Atlanta with the choir singing the civil right’s anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”
But unlike the maudlin, slow version we have come to know, this one was loud and rollicking. Cheerful and optimistic. Hopeful for at least four good years out of Reed as the city’s next mayor.
“We are here to pray for Kasim Reed,” said Morehouse College President Robert M. Franklin. “And we are here to speak truth to power to remind him that we will hold him and all elected officials accountable.”
The Inaugural Prayer Service kicked off a day’s worth of inauguration activities for Reed as he marks his first official day in office.
After the mid-day swearing-in, Reed will host a Citizens’ Reception at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. At the reception, citizens will be able to meet Reed and tour the executive suite.
Reed, who was never shy about his faith on the campaign trail, grew up in the church with his mother and three brothers. His voice broke when he talked about his time in the church. When he was baptized. The first time he spoke in public, he said, was in Ben Hill United Methodist Church. Four minutes away from the house he was raised in.
Quoting Scripture, Reed asked if four little boys could succeed in 2010.
“If our children cannot rise to the highest levels of this city, what have we become?” Reed said. “We’ve got to look in the mirror Atlanta. I am going to work today and focus on making sure that mothers and fathers have a job to make sure they can look in their children in the eyes.”
Throughout the campaign, Reed spoke tough on crime and promised to re-open every closed community center in the city.
“I carry the hopes and aspiration for the people in Atlanta in my heart,” Reed said.
At the prayer services, several members of the clergy, representing different faiths, offered a series of prayers for Reed. But there were also specific prayers for the city, communities, families, the city council, and the city council president, among others.
There was also singing at the church Reed grew up in. Minister T. Renee Crutcher strolled through the church’s aisle singing, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” before stopping in front of Reed to serenade the new mayor.
“Kasim Reed has a purpose in his life, upon his life,” said the Rev. Walter Kimbrough. “The purpose of his life is God given and God inspired. It is God’s purpose for K.R. to be our mayor.”
Kimbrough noted that Reed had persistence and lauded him for not quitting the mayor’s race when he trailed desperately in the polls.
“We are God’s provision for him, don’t expect our mayor to be all things for all people at all times,” Kimbrough said. “We have to help him be all things that God will have him to be. He is ready to give us the leadership we need in this time.”
Reed called on the city council, judiciary and the community to work with him to improve the city.
“The challenges Atlanta face are too big for one individual,” Reed said.