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State of the Union 2023

Source: Tom Williams / Getty

President Biden covered a gambit of topics during his second State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, highlighting some of his administration’s most notable achievements to date. 

Biden’s speech included plans to return the billionaire tax, do away with “junk fees” from banks and airlines, and plans to protect social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

With the parents of Tyre Nichols and the father of Michael Brown, in the audience, Biden expressed sympathy for the families and said America needs to “finish the job on police reform.”

“There’s no words to describe the heartbreak or grief of losing a child. But imagine, imagine if you lost that child at the hands of the law,” Biden said while addressing Nichols’ parents. “Imagine having to worry whether your son or daughter came home from walking down the street, playing in the park, or just driving in the car.”

He continued by sharing the pain and worry that many Black parents face every day their child leaves home.

“Most of us in here have never had to have the talk, the talk that brown and Black parents have had to have with their children,” said Biden.

“Imagine having to worry like that every day in America.”

Civil rights leaders seemingly had positive responses to Biden’s State Of the Union but demanded that his words be more than just words and turn into real action.

“Tonight, President Biden presented a vision for the future that spoke to many issues that are top-of-mind for Black Americans including police reform, voting rights, bolstering our economy, addressing climate change, and ensuring affordable and accessible health care,” said NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson. “Though his remarks renewed his commitment to addressing racial inequality and protecting our democracy, we need more than words– we demand action.”

Others had a similar sentiment.  

“We applaud the President for calling out the national tragedy of police brutality and demanding accountability for violent officers; now we must finish the job by demanding passage of federal legislation – and supporting local reform with dedicated funding for innovative ideas,” said People For the American Way President, Svante Myrick.

Action over words seemed to be the theme of the night for civil rights leaders.

“We demand President Biden invest in communities and divest from deadly policing, including urging Georgia to halt Cop City and other police projects that take resources away from interventions that grant our communities real safety,” The Movement for Black Lives said in a statement. “We are also demanding he tells the Department of Justice to end the criminalization of protests. This Trump-era policy has significantly impacted those protesting for Black lives and environmental justice – this includes granting amnesty to those arrested due to these reactionary statutes and ordering their immediate release.”


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