KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Joe Biden began fulfilling his promise to address racial justice on the first day of his term.
“A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us,” Biden said during his inauguration speech. “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”
One of his first executive orders directs federal agencies to make racial equity a priority and to review policies that reinforce systemic racism.
Nimrod Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, noted the importance of such a statement from Biden.
“To name racial equity and talk about bringing the country together in that way, not only talks about the priorities, but I think about how those are going to be ranked and what those should mean for the American public during his administration,” Chapel said.
On the campaign trail, the president outlined a plan to address racial disparities from health to policing, which Chapel also discussed.
“Issues like we have here in Missouri where an officer can be fired in one location and simply go to work in the next jurisdiction or the next smallest town and continue bad practices. These are not officers that deserve to be officers,” Chapel said.
Biden also pledged to a make a fair criminal justice system. David Grummon, an attorney and executive board member of the local advocacy group More2, said Biden was instrument in a 1994 crime bill that “contributed to the high levels of incarceration.”
“In some ways, he’s got some problems that he needs to fix,” Grummon said.
Grummon said he believes the public should be cautiously optimistic about what’s ahead.
“I think there was unfortunately a sense by some folks once Obama got elected, ‘Hey, we elected a African-American president, this is a post-racial nation,'” Grummon said. “We’ve clearly seen that’s not the case. We have a lot of work to do, we have a lot of listening to do.”
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