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Anissa Moore sworn in as 1st black member of Long Beach council

Anissa Moore speaks at City Hall in Long

Anissa Moore speaks at City Hall in Long Beach after being sworn in as the first African-American City Council member in Long Beach on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Anissa D. Moore was sworn in Friday as the first black person to serve on the Long Beach City Council at a sometimes emotional ceremony marking a place in the city’s history.

“Today is not an ordinary day, it is a moment in history,” Moore told the packed sixth floor of Long Beach City Hall in a passionate, powerful speech that drew overwhelming applause and a standing ovation. “Today we stand together recognizing what ordinary people can do through the power of the vote.”

Moore, who was the top vote-getter in November’s election to fill three seats on the five-member City Council, spoke of the meaning of this day in her life: She spoke of a distant great grandmother who was a slave, her voice breaking as she uttered the woman’s name; and talked about her grandmother, who worked long hours in a Brooklyn factory with the hope her children might one day be able to attend college. But she also talked about the significance of her election for the Island city, where segregation and institutional racism pervaded just decades ago.

“Here I stand humbled knowing the people with the same complexion that I have couldn’t even sleep in the same houses they cleaned in the City of Long Beach,” she said. “We are better than our past, Long Beach.”

State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Gianelli swore in Moore and lauded her qualifications to lead, noting her time as dean of social and behavioral sciences at Nassau Community College. She now is a communications professor.

Also sworn in Friday were incumbents Anthony Eramo, who along with Moore will serve a four-year term; and Len Torres, who had the third-highest number of votes in November and will serve a two-year term. Eramo was sworn in by his son and daughter and Torres was sworn in by outgoing Councilwoman Fran Adelson.

Former Long Beach Democratic committee member Stephen Kohut, who emceed the nearly two-hour ceremony, made several references to Moore’s election as historic, and also recalled Torres’ initial 2009 election, in which he became the first Latino to serve on the council.

“This glass ceiling that we broke this past Election Day is special in many ways,” Kohut said. “It showed the true spirit of the residents of Long Beach.”

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