Visiting a black church bombed by the Ku Klux Klan during the civil rights era, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in report by AP, has framed current racial tensions as part of an enduring struggle that is older than the nation.
“In a centuries long campaign of violence, fear, trauma, brought upon black people in this country, the domestic terrorism of white supremacy has been the antagonist of our highest ideals since before the founding of this country,” Biden told the 16th Street Baptist Church congregation in downtown Birmingham as they commemorated the 56th anniversary of the bombing that killed four black girls in 1963.
“It’s in the wake of these before-and-after moments,” Biden added, “when the choice between good and evil is starkest.” Biden’s appearance comes at an inflection point for Democrats’ 2020 leader in the polls.
He is trying to capitalize on his strength among older black voters while navigating criticism from some African American and other nonwhite leaders, particularly younger ones, who take a skeptical view of the 76-year-old white man’s willingness and ability to address systemic racism.
During his 20 minutes at the pulpit, Biden condemned institutional racism as the direct legacy of slavery and lamented that the nation has “never lived up to” the ideals of equality written into its founding documents.
But then he added a more personal note perhaps the closest he would come to addressing his detractors. “Those who are white try,” Biden said, “but we can never fully understand.”