â€œEducation doesnâ€™t mean anything if we canâ€™t go birdwatching, if we canâ€™t jog and if we canâ€™t go to a convenience store,â€ Dr. Williams said. â€œAnd if we canâ€™t do the normal things, the normal daily living things, it creates a feeling of oppression and frustration, and all the things that are the tricks of the enemy to get us angry and then cause us to be violent.â€
The Rev. Shanika Perry, the churchâ€™s youth pastor, asked Mr. Biden to meet with young black people.
â€œThey want to be at the table,â€ she said. â€œIt is not enough to have the youth pastor speaking on their behalf. They have brilliant ideas themselves.â€
Black women want a seat at the table, too, Ms. Perry said, urging Mr. Biden to choose one as his running mate. Black women are the most reliable voting bloc within the Democratic Party, she noted, adding, â€œbut when it matters, you guys donâ€™t necessarily include us when it comes to positions of power.â€
When Mr. Biden finally stood up to speak, he quoted the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard â€” â€œâ€˜Faith sees best in the dark,â€™â€ he said, â€œand itâ€™s been pretty darkâ€ â€” before condemning Mr. Trump for, he said, publicly legitimizing the racism that protesters are fighting against.
Earlier in his career, â€œI thought we could actually defeat hate,â€ Mr. Biden said. â€œWhat I realized â€” not just white supremacy, but hate â€” hate just hides. Hate just hides. It doesnâ€™t go away. And when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen to the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks.â€
Mr. Biden added that he did not take black voters for granted and that he was putting together a detailed set of policy proposals to address their concerns. He also said he believed the events of the past few months would force more Americans to confront institutionalized racism.
It is not just police violence but also the coronavirus pandemic, which has been disproportionately affecting black communities. It is not just Mr. Floyd but also Breonna Taylor, whom the police in Louisville, Ky., killed in her own apartment; Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by two white men while jogging in Georgia; and Christian Cooper, who asked a white woman in Central Park to leash her dog, only for the woman to call the police and claim he was threatening her life.