This year marks the 56th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Alabama, which took four lives. For the occasion, Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, has given a speech emphasizing the recent rise of white supremacy in the U.S.
Biden has linked the more recent crimes in El Paso, Charleston, Pittsburg, and Poway to an overarching issue — racism. According to Biden, the same ideology has been the driving force behind all massacres. As the 2020 presidential candidate said, the U.S. had not eradicated white supremacy, and the increase in hate crimes was the result.
During his campaign, Biden has been criticized for misspeaking when racial issues were concerned. Other Democratic candidates have spoken against Biden’s comments regarding his work with segregationists. Fairly recently, Pete Buttigieg has stated that Biden gave a poor answer during the Houston debate. The question at hand concerned the legacy of slavery.
Despite the comments from his Democratic competitors, Biden remains the party’s leading candidate based on the latest CNN poll. His most significant advantage is the black voters since 42% would give him their support. On the other hand, only 12% of black voters are in favor of Bernie Sanders, Biden’s closest competitor.
Biden’s Emotional Speech
The former vice president has shared his personal experience with loss and grief during the speech in Birmingham. He has previously lost his daughter and wife in a car crash and his son due to cancer. Biden has expressed how time does not heal the loss of a child.
There was no mention of Trump or the upcoming 2020 election during the speech. Still, Biden emphasized how important this period was for the future of America. According to him, we are fighting for “America’s soul,” and the Birmingham church is the perfect place for that reminder.
Biden also pointed out the progress this country had made since the 1963 bombing. He remembered Dr. King and his reaction to the deaths of four girls many years ago. Biden wondered how King would feel about Obama, America’s first black president, awarding the girls with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2013.
In his speech, Biden added that the change might be slow, but it was continuous. According to him, only with perseverance and faith, America can have a different future where such tragedies do not occur. Still, Biden stated, we were not there yet. He added that, as white people, they “can never fully understand,” regardless of their efforts.
Biden concluded his speech urging the people to remember the bombing and decide who they wanted to be in this critical moment in U.S. history. He called for people to keep fighting for the American dream.
Following the speech, Biden and Senator Doug Jones went to the four girls’ memorial to pay their respects and pray.