President Biden on Monday said that all Americans must speak up because diversity is being attacked, remarks he made while marking 60 years of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The event comes just days after a deadly shooting in Jacksonville, Fla., killed three Black Americans, which is suspected to be racially motivated. The president bashed attacks on diversity such as book bans, which are happening in states including Florida and are targeting books about slavery and Black history, among other topics.
“Now is the time for all Americans to speak up when history’s being erased, books are being banned. Did you ever think we’d have this conversation here, at this time?” Biden said in remarks. “Diversity’s being attacked.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law was created at the direction of former President John F. Kennedy. Monday marks 60 years since the March on Washington, when roughly 250,000 people gathered on the National Mall to push for civil rights and equality, and when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
“We know this. As I made clear in my inaugural address, white supremacy is a poison. It’s a poison,” Biden said at the event. “It’s been allowed to grow faster and fester in our communities to the point where the intelligence community’s determined … that domestic terrorism, rooted in white supremacy, is the greatest terrorist threat we face in the homeland.”
“We have to act,” he added.
Federal law enforcement has opened a civil rights investigation into the Jacksonville shooting, treating it as a possible hate crime and act of domestic violent extremism.
“Hate will not prevail in America,” Biden said. “Hate never dies, it just hides.”
“This is our charge, keep pushing, keep going, set the record straight,” the president said.
The shooter on Saturday opened fire at a store near a historically Black university and used an assault-style rifle and handgun for the shooting.
Biden noted that he signed a bipartisan gun safety law last year, “but we must not stop until we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” renewing his calls for such a ban that is not expected to gain any traction in the GOP-controlled House.
He also said the U.S. must address the “relentless exploitation of the internet to recruit and mobilize violent extremists,” acknowledging it will be hard because it could impact First Amendment rights.
Biden and Vice President Harris earlier Monday met with relatives of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders at the White House. The president in the meeting underscored the need for continued work on racial equality.
Attendees in the meeting included Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, Yolanda King, Bernice King, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, among other civil rights leaders.
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