Biden Blasts White Extremism, Seeks to Solidify Black Support in Speech at Charleston’s Historic Mother Emanuel AME

Ahead of the South Carolina primary, the president seeks voter backing in the place he first got it four years ago.

President Joe Biden focused on historic White supremacist extremism in America in a speech at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church, the site of one of the deadliest racist massacres ever, pledging to be the alternative that Black America wants to Donald Trump, on Monday (Jan. 8). 

During his talk, he invoked confederates who would not accept defeat at the end of the Civil War and Jan. 6, 2021 rioters who would not accept a Trump defeat.“We saw something on January 6th we’d never seen before, even during the Civil War. Insurrectionists waving Confederate flags inside the halls of Congress built by enslaved Americans,” said Biden. “A mob attacked and called Black officers, Black veterans defending the nation those vile of racist names.“And yet,” Biden continued, “an extreme movement of America, the MAGA Republicans, led by a defeated President, is trying to steal history now.”RELATED: Biden-Harris Reelection Campaign Launches Ads Targeting Black CommunityBiden’s speech comes at a time when Black support has reportedly waned. According to polls conducted recently at the University of Chicago, the president has lost significant support – as much as 30 percent – from a survey of 3,400 likely Black voters, who supported him as much as 92 percent in 2020. A separate poll conducted by The New York Times found similar results.With the Feb. 3 South Carolina primary only weeks away, African American voters there could once again determine the direction of Biden’s campaign. About 30 percent of the state’s population is Black, according to USA Today, and that may reflect whether or not the president has retained the support he once had when he was best known among Black folks as the vice president serving under President Barack Obama.RELATED: Biden Losing Support Among 2024 Black Voters, Survey Shows

Mother Emanuel AME, a church strongly tied with the history of Black people in America, was the location of the June 17, 2015 mass shooting that took the lives of nine people who were there for Bible study, including its pastor Clementa Pinckney. All of the victims were Black, and their assailant, Dylan Roof, was a young White man who plotted to kill solely on the basis of race. He was sentenced to death in November 2017.Biden came to the church just weeks before the primary. In the 2020 primary, he competed with a large group of Democratic rivals, including current Vice President Kamala Harris. Shortly before the primary vote, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn endorsed Biden, steering him toward the Democratic nomination and eventual victory in the General Election.He acknowledged Clyburn’s role in getting him the Black vote needed to overtake his rivals, beginning with that primary.“It’s because of this congregation and the Black community of South Carolina and…Jim Clyburn that I stand here today as your president because of all of you,” Biden said. “That’s a fact. That’s a fact. And I owe you.”

The speech was briefly interrupted by a group of pro-Palestinian protestors shouting “ceasefire now,” demanding that Biden take action on the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. However, attendees drowned them out shouting “four more years!” as the demonstrators were escorted away. “I understand their passion,” Biden said..”And I’ve been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza. I’ve been using all that I can to do that.”

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