Democratic Lt. Gov. Austin Davis accompanied by his wife Blayre Holmes Davis departs from the Senate chambers after becoming Pennsylvania's first Black lieutenant governor, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Pennsylvania Governor Inauguration
Democratic Lt. Gov. Austin Davis accompanied by his wife Blayre Holmes Davis departs from the Senate chambers after becoming Pennsylvania's first Black lieutenant governor, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A former state House lawmaker, Austin Davis was sworn in Tuesday as Pennsylvania’s 35th lieutenant governor, becoming the first Black person to hold the office.

One day after the federal holiday celebrating the life and achievements of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Pennsylvania’s first Black lieutenant governor took the oath of office.

Austin Davis was sworn into office Tuesday as the state’s 35th lieutenant governor. He is the highest ranking Black elected official to serve in the commonwealth.

“While I’m blessed with this awesome opportunity and responsibility, it was paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before me,” Davis said in brief remarks from the Senate rostrum after taking the oath.

Davis defeated former state Rep. Brian Sims in the May primary to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Then gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro endorsed Davis as his running mate. In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are not paired on the primary ballot but do run as a ticket in the November election.

As lieutenant governor, Davis is second in the gubernatorial line of succession and presides over the state Senate and the Board of Pardons.

“This moment is a symbol of our progress here in the commonwealth we love and it’s one that I hope serves as a point of pride for millions of Pennsylvanians who have never before seen themselves represented in the halls of power,” Davis said. “I am humbled by the chance to carry this history and to serve. More importantly, we are sending a message to the next generation of leaders, young people across our commonwealth, especially Black and brown young people, that Pennsylvania has and will always be a place where all are welcome and where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

He has vowed to be a strong governing partner to Shapiro. Both have championed the working class, a more equitable economy, safe communities, education funding, and raising the minimum wage.

Both Davis and Shapiro have vowed to take on gun violence and tackle the root causes of violence.

A resident of McKeesport, Davis served as the first Black state representative in western Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh from 2018 until his resignation in December.

The son of a union bus driver and a hairdresser, Davis graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a political science degree.

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