Joe Biden’s enduring commitment to the Black community: Six decades of advocacy and action

PHOTO CREDIT: Cydni Elledge

When one delves into the expansive realm of American politics, it cannot be overlooked that few figures have stood the test of time and demonstrated a relentless commitment to the Black community like President Joe Biden. From his teenage years, deeply rooted in the civil rights movement, to his tenure as President of the United States, Biden’s love, respect, and dedication to the Black community have been unwavering and profoundly impactful. His journey, marked by six decades of advocacy, has not only been a testament to his character but also a beacon of hope and progress for generations of Black Americans.

Biden’s declaration, “I’ve been a part of the civil rights movement since I was 15,” resonates with an authenticity that few can rival. This long-standing commitment was on full display Sunday evening at Huntington Place during the Detroit Branch NAACP’s 69th annual Freedom Fund Dinner. As he took the stage, the air was thick with anticipation and reverence. Thousands of attendees, voices united, chanted “four more years,” a powerful affirmation of their support for a president who has consistently shown up and shown out for the Black community.

In a time where efforts to erase Black history from educational curricula are rampant, Biden’s voice cut through the noise with clarity and conviction. “They’re trying to erase Black history literally. They’re wrong. They don’t understand–Black history is American history. Not a joke. Together, we make history. We do not erase history,” he proclaimed. These words, more than just rhetoric, were a rallying cry, a reaffirmation that Black history and American history are inextricably linked.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden, Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP president

Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP president, introduced Biden with a heartfelt and evocative testament: “Along came a man by the name of Joe Biden, who gave a hand to a man to lift him out of the pit.” This introduction was more than ceremonial; it was a clear reminder of Biden’s role as an ally, a supporter, and a friend to the Black community.

The significance of the Black vote in shaping the future of America was a central theme of Biden’s address. “You’re the reason Kamala Harris is a historic vice president,” he reminded the audience. “You’re the reason Donald Trump was the defeated former president. And you’re the reason Donald Trump is going to be a loser again.” These statements were not just accolades but a call to action, a reminder of the power and influence of the Black electorate in determining the course of the nation.

The importance of the Black vote cannot be overstated. It is the lifeblood of our democracy, the force that drives change and ensures that our voices are heard. For centuries, Black Americans have fought tirelessly for the right to vote, facing insurmountable odds, from literacy tests and poll taxes to the violence and intimidation of Jim Crow. Despite these obstacles, we have persisted, knowing that our vote is our power, our way to shape the future and secure the freedoms that our ancestors fought so valiantly to attain. The struggle for voting rights is not just a chapter in our history; it is the very essence of our ongoing fight for equality and justice.

As the crowd gathered to introduce President Biden, the room was graced with the soulful harmonies of a beautiful quartet, angelically singing, “I don’t feel no ways tired, I’ve come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy but I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me.” This song, a testament to our resilience and determination, resonated deeply with everyone present. It reminded us of the sacrifices made by those who came before us, the blood, sweat, and tears shed in the pursuit of freedom and justice. It was a sure reminder that while the road has been long and arduous, we have come too far to turn back now. Our ancestors dreams and struggles have paved the way for us, and it is our responsibility to continue their fight.

Biden’s administration has been marked by significant achievements that directly benefit the Black community. From the largest investment in Black communities in decades to efforts to reconnect neighborhoods divided by infrastructure and expanding the Affordable Care Act, Biden’s policies have been transformative. His support during the historic UAW strike was a testament to his commitment to labor rights and economic justice, further solidifying his bond with the working-class Black community.

“The Biden Administration’s accomplishments on Black nominations and appointments include a number of ‘firsts’,” Biden proudly noted. This includes Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman to hold the office, and other key appointments that reflect the diversity and strength of America such as Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court. These milestones are not just symbolic; they are indicative of a broader commitment to inclusion and representation at the highest levels of government.

Biden’s economic policies have been particularly impactful. His administration has led to historically low unemployment rates among Black Americans and created new opportunities for Black-owned businesses. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has lowered energy costs, created good-paying jobs, and advanced environmental justice, addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on communities of color.

The signing of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has directed billions towards Black families and communities, cutting Black child poverty by more than half, supporting child care providers, and helping Black Americans stay in their homes. These investments are not just financial; they are investments in the future and well-being of Black Americans.

Education and economic empowerment have been central to Biden’s agenda. His administration has delivered nearly $6 billion to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and implemented policies to ensure Black families can afford child care. Biden’s student debt relief plan targets Black borrowers, who disproportionately carry the burden of educational debt, providing much-needed relief and economic stability.

In the realms of justice, health, and housing, Biden has made strides in criminal justice reform, health equity, and equitable homeownership programs. His administration has prioritized police accountability, supported Black maternal health, and invested in programs designed to dismantle systemic barriers and promote fairness and justice. These initiatives are steps toward rectifying the historic and systemic injustices that have long plagued Black Americans.

PHOTO: Governor Gretchen Whitmer giving remarks at Detroit NAACP 69th annual Freedom Fund Dinner 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s words during the NAACP dinner echoed Biden’s sentiments and reinforced the ongoing fight for freedom. “Economic freedom and personal freedom,” she declared. “This is what Michigan is all about. We commit ourselves to fighting for freedom.” Her closing, “Big Gretch loves you Detroit!” encapsulated the mutual love and respect between Michigan’s Black community and its leaders, further solidifying the bond between political leadership and the community it serves.

Today, the fight for freedom continues. The challenges we face may have evolved, but the core issues remain the same. Voter suppression, economic inequality, and systemic racism still threaten to undermine the progress we have made. But we are not deterred. The Black vote remains a powerful tool in our arsenal, a means to effect change and hold our leaders accountable. As we honor the legacy of those who fought before us, we must also look to the future, committed to ensuring that every Black voice is heard and every Black vote is counted. Our journey is far from over, and together, we will continue to march forward, steadfast in our pursuit of true equality and justice for all.

Biden’s track record, filled with tangible achievements and heartfelt advocacy, speaks volumes. From his days as a teenage activist to his presidency, Biden has consistently championed the cause of Black Americans. His policies, speeches, and actions reflect a deep understanding of the challenges faced by Black Americans and a relentless drive to address them. As the fight for equality continues, Biden’s leadership provides hope and tangible progress toward a more just and equitable society.

If there’s still a question of “What has he done for me lately?” the numbers and actions tell the story. Biden’s legacy is one of action, of showing up, and of making a difference. As Rev. Wendell Anthony passionately stated, the time to take your soles to the polls is now. Biden’s commitment is not just a promise; it is a reality, a testament to his enduring dedication to the Black community.

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