Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a speech before a mostly black congregation at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., Sunday in which he spoke of race relations in terms befitting a biblical prophet warning of impending destruction.
Biden’s brief address the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day included tales of the Civil Rights Movement while expressing fear that the progress made during the 1960s was unraveling, at least in part due to President Trump.
“Folks, some mornings I wake up and I think it’s more like what it must have been in 1920 than 2020,” Biden said.
He went on to recall the efforts and success of the Civil Rights Movement, saying that at the time people “thought we began to move and that civil rights was beginning to make some real progress.”
Biden forebodingly claimed that this progress was part of a movement that “has not been able to be stopped until recently,” warning that while “I thought you could defeat hate … hate only hides.”
The 2020 presidential hopeful then referenced the conflict that took place at the 2017 Unite the Right white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which a woman was killed during clashes between rally participants and counterprotesters.
Biden then mentioned President Trump’s initial response to the Charlottesville incident, in which he referred to “very fine people on both sides,” drawing widespread criticism.
“What I realized is that hate just hides,” Biden said after recalling this. “And it when it comes out from under the rocks, when it gets a little bit of oxygen."
The former vice president then went even further in connecting Trump to racism.
“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.”
Last April, Trump defended his 2017 comments after the violence in Charlottesville, claiming that when he was not calling neo-Nazis or white supremacists “very fine people,” but rather those who opposed the removal of Confederate statues. After Trump gave that explanation, Biden said it was “nonsense.”
Biden then used the warning to rally the audience, telling them "we gotta stand up and we gotta fight," and recalling Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.
“Dr. King didn’t give up on the dream," he 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.”