On Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden said that his administration wasn't likely to end racial injustice during his time in the White House. But he promised that while he's in office, the federal government will take every action possible to address the problem.
Biden laid out his administration's goal in fighting systemic racism and reaching racial equity on Tuesday, addressing a nation that has been forced to reckon with the issue of race several times throughout the past year — beginning with the death of George Floyd last May.
“Those eight minutes and 46 seconds that took George Floyd's life opened the eyes of millions of Americans and millions of people around the world. It was the knee on the neck of justice and it wouldn't be forgotten,” Biden said Tuesday.
Biden also addressed the thousands of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, some of whom carried Confederate flags and wore shirts with racist and anti-Semitic slogans. He called those rioters "thugs" and "white supremacists."
Biden again returned to the theme of unity, which has peppered his speeches since taking the oath of office last Wednesday. He said that some Americans have mistaken putting others down for "getting ahead," and added that "for too long, we've allowed a narrow view of America to fester."
Biden also quoted President John F. Kennedy by saying that "rising tides lift all boats." He added that striving for racial equity would "lift all boats" and vastly increase the quality of life in the country.
Following his address, Biden signed four executive orders, which attempt to establish a police oversight commission, restore Obama-era policies that prohibit the sale of military equipment to local police departments, eliminate the Department of Justice's use of private prisons and roll back Trump-era policies prohibiting racial sensitivity training.
Biden signed an order on his first day in office that promised to "advanc[e] equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality."
During his address on Tuesday, Biden said that order spread the responsibility for reaching racial equity across the entire federal government, making it a goal of every department and agency.
America has never lived up to its founding promise of equality for all, but we’ve never stopped trying. Today, I’ll take action to advance racial equity and push us closer to that more perfect union we’ve always strived to be.— President Biden (@POTUS) January 26, 2021
Since the campaign, Biden has made clear that his administration will be focused on racial equality. Biden selected Kamala Harris as his vice president — the first woman and person of color to hold the office. He's also made diversity a priority in his cabinet — among them, Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin, the first Black man to run the Pentagon.