Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the congregation during Sunday’s service at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.
During his speech, Biden likened President Donald Trump’s views to those of the Ku Klux Klan during the civil rights movement.
The Democratic front-runner not only implored the mostly black congregation to fight against hate, but he also blamed Trump for contributing to the undoing of progress sparked in the 1960s.
“Folks, some mornings I wake up and I think it’s more like what it must’ve been in 1920 than 2020,” Biden said.
He said his involvement in the civil rights movement, paired with his time as former President Barack Obama’s vice president, had made him come to believe that the country was moving away from racial discrimination.
“I thought things that weren’t going to change,” Biden said. “I thought we were on a trajectory that weren’t going to change.”
He said the movement “has not been able to be stopped until recently.”
“I thought you could defeat hate,” Biden told the congregation said. “But hate only hides. It never fully goes away.”
He likened Trump’s reaction to the 2017 Unite the Right white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to when Birmingham, Alabama, Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor unleashed dogs and powerful fire hoses on civil rights protesters in 1963.
He said Connor’s use of such extreme measures was an “inflection point” that showed the rest of the country just how thick the hatred between whites and minorities had become.
Similarly, Biden said, Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville was a modern inflection point.
Following the violence between those protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park and those counterprotesting, the president said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
The establishment media quickly took his remarks out of context and condemned Trump for supposedly calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists “very fine.”
Only a few moments after the president said that, however, he made it clear that he wasn’t talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, whom he said “should be condemned totally,” but was instead referring to those concerned about erasing American history.
This isn’t the first time Biden has mentioned Trump’s initial reaction to the Charlottesville riots since during his presidential campaign.
When Biden announced his candidacy in April 2019, he said, “With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”
During his speech Sunday at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Biden took his condemnation of the president even further, drawing connections between Trump and the KKK before calling on those listening to not “give up on the dream,” referencing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech in 1963.
“Dr. King didn’t give up on the dream,” Biden said. “And I’m asking you all, don’t give up on it. Don’t give up now. We can defeat this moment of hate. …
“This president and his — the Ku Klux Klans and the rest of them — they think they’ve beaten us again but they have no idea. We’re just coming back.”
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