WASHINGTON – In a close to Black History Month, the White House hosted a reception Wednesday to celebrate Black people, their achievements and all the efforts the Biden-Harris administration has made to aid progress.
“Black history is American history. Living history. Breathing history. History that we create every day. And history that we then must teach and celebrate. A history that helps us to understand how the past has influenced the present and potentially our future,” Vice President Kamala Harris said to applause from a few hundred people gathered in the East Room.
Standing from wall to wall, the people in the audience included the Congressional Black Caucus and several other members of Congress, presidents of various Black Greek organizations, activists, government officials from across the country and more. Throughout the afternoon the audience showed their excitement with cheers, claps and snaps.
“And let us all be clear: We will not, as a nation, build a better future for America by trying to erase America’s past,” she added. She was referencing Florida governor Ron DeSantis rejection of an Advanced Placement course in African American studies.
“We have to learn everything: the good, the bad, the truth, and who we are as a nation. That’s what great nations do. That’s what great nations do. And we’re a great nation,” Biden said.
While highlighting some of the historic impacts of Black Americans in the past, the president and vice president also extolled the efforts of the administration to address issues that disproportionately impact the Black community. Harris mentioned the replacement of lead pipes, health inequities, infrastructure, and the climate crisis.
President Joe Biden celebrated the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and the election of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as the first Black House minority leader. Biden also emphasized that Black child poverty was cut in half in 2021 and the federal government invested more than $6 billion in HBCUs. Harris, who attended Howard University, shook her head and clapped with the crowd.
The president also spoke about police reform legislation, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the student debt relief plan, which is currently before the Supreme Court.
“You’ve been key partners on executive orders that I’ve signed: advancing racial equality and justice and supporting underserved communities, but we have to keep going. We’re not finished yet,” he said.
Following these speeches, musician Anthony Brown and pop/rap) group therAPy performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black National Anthem.
“Lift every voice and sing, ‘till Earth and heaven ring. Ring with the harmonies of liberty.”