Former Vice President Joe Biden urged Americans to commit to ripping “out the roots of systemic racism” on Saturday when delivering his Fourth of July message to the nation.
Biden, the presumptive Democrat nominee, began his remarks by quoting the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal.”
“Our country was founded on an idea,” the former vice president said, invoking the quote. “We never lived up to it. [Thomas] Jefferson himself didn’t. He held slaves. Women were excluded. But once proposed, it was an idea that couldn’t be contained.”
Arguing that the notion of universal equality had survived the Civil War, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and now the “murder” of George Floyd, Biden expressed that “American history is no fairy tale.”
“It’s been a constant push-and-pull between two parts of our character: the idea that all men and women–all people–are created equal, and the racism that has torn us apart,” he said.
The former vice president added, however, that just because America had never lived up to its promise of equality, that did not mean it should not commit to trying.
“We have a chance now to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, [and] the oppressed a full share of the American dream,” Biden said. “We have the chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”
Our nation was founded on a simple idea: We’re all created equal. We’ve never lived up to it — but we’ve never stopped trying. This Independence Day, let’s not just celebrate those words, let’s commit to finally fulfill them. Happy #FourthOfJuly! pic.twitter.com/1WrATlx8Xl
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 4, 2020
The remarks came one day after his general election rival, President Donald Trump, delivered a speech in front of Mount Rushmore. In his address, Trump lambasted the “cancel culture” of racial justice activists, many of whom the president claimed were trying to “overthrow” and revise the history of the United States. Trump’s speech, in particular, focused on the attempts by some of the activists to tear down statues and public monuments.
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this,” the president said on Friday. “Many of them know exactly what they are doing.”
Biden, for his part, did not address any of those topics in his Fourth of July message. Last week, the former vice president briefly touched on the topic after a speech in Delaware, telling reporters that he favored removing statues honoring Confederate generals, but opposed taking down those commemorating Christopher Columbus or former U.S. presidents, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.