Vice President Joe Biden picked Wilmington’s MLK event to speak about race relations.
As people honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through community service, there was a strong message delivered in Delaware by the vice president of the United States that touched on the ideals of what the civil rights leader represented.
“Dr. King wrote and I quote ‘men often hate each other because they fear each other, they fear each other because they do not know each other, they do not know each other because they can not communicate and they can not communicate because they are separated’,” said U.S. V.P. Joe Biden.
Biden referenced the civil rights leader’s words at the 31st Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast hosted by the Organization of Minority Women in Delaware. The words were meant to describe the strained relationship between police and some civilians seen today.
“There’s no reason we cannot repair the breach that we recently seen between law enforcement and minority communities,” Biden said.
The former Delaware senator who walked alongside many community activists and police officers shared that he is quite familiar with people from both sides of the spectrum.
Biden’s speech hit close to home to Richard Smith who leads the Delaware N.A.A.C.P chapter
“It was right on point. We needed this message. We need the police department and the Black community to come together,” Smith said.
Smith even expressed excitement about body cameras which are currently sitting on the shelves at the Wilmington Police Department. The cameras will eventually be put to use.
Meanwhile, Biden strongly supports community policing like what he experienced growing up in Delaware. Since 1998, the money spent on law enforcement has dropped nationwide as high as 87 percent. As a result, there’s less communication, more hostility, more crime and lack of trust in law enforcement Biden said.
However, the vice president expects change will soon come just like it came on January 19, 2009 when Barack Obama and Biden headed on a train to Washington D.C from Wilmington to be sworn in as President and Vice President.
“Change rolled down that track, it didn’t solve every problem, all of sudden having for the first time in history an African-American President but it represented fundamental change,” Biden said.
Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams also spoke briefly at the event with Councilman Theo Gregory alongside him, representing change and unity within city government.
“We want you to know that we are one force and we are one force that’s going to turn things around,” Williams said.
Several state leaders such as Gov. Jack Markell and Senator Tom Carper were in the small crowd as well. Unfortunately folks were forced to leave early due to volunteer commitments on Martin Luther King Day.
Also in attendance was Beau Biden, the vice president’s son and former attorney-general. The younger Biden did not speak at the ceremony.
Dr. King once said, “We’ve come a long, long way but we have a long way to go” in a 1965 speech shortly after the march for voting rights in Selma Alabama. Congressmen John Carney referenced that quote because there was a lot of discussion and debate at that time about progress being made.
“I think the truth of the matter is, if Martin Luther King was here today for this breakfast and we asked him that question, he would probably give the same answer. “We’ve come a long, long way but we have a long way to go” and that responsibility falls on us,” Carney said.