A video recently resurfaced on social media of President Joe Biden’s June 2020 comments comparing the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the murder of George Floyd. The statement caused great conversation on various media platforms in recent weeks.
Biden initially made the comments in June 2020 at a roundtable discussion in Philadelphia, but they became relevant again on Martin Luther King Jr. day of this year.
“Even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact as George Floyd’s death,” President Biden said at the roundtable discussion.
Biden then went on to say the use of cellphones to capture and bring attention to police brutality and the murder of George Floyd had a great impact because people were able to see it with their own eyes.
While more people have been able to see police brutality and trauma in the Black community, the comments Biden made should not be acceptable.
Even though Biden’s statement was simple and short, it made a huge impression.
For many people, their first time hearing of this statement was on MLK day, which caused the uproar to become even more significant. Biden had no right to compare Black death and weigh whether one was more impactful than the other. Both Dr. King and George Floyd stirred up the world, especially as it relates to issues of racial injustice.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s worldwide impact led him to become one of only a handful of Black people and the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. He won the prize in 1964.
IU senior Carrington Parran said she was disappointed when she first learned of Biden’s comments.
“I disagree with the statement Biden made,” Parran said. “As a white man, he had no right to make those comments.”
Parran said King and Floyd had different purposes behind what they are known for and should not be compared to one another.
“George Floyd’s murder absolutely did impact the black community, but MLK knew his life was at risk for what he was doing,” Parran said. “ George Floyd was forced to become the representative of the realization of social injustice when he was killed.”
Parran then went on to say Biden’s comments only proved there is so much work left to be done within the Black community.
IU sophomore Jane Kimani said she initially understood the comments Biden made due to increased access to social media but also said Biden had no right to compare the two individuals.
“As a white man, I don’t think that was his place to place his opinion as to whether he believes MLK or George Floyd was more important or had a bigger impact on the world,” Kimani said.
Kimani also said she does not believe MLK or George Floyd should even be compared by anyone, regardless of race or ethnic identity, because they are two different people and had two different situations.
“These comments have a negative impact on the legacy of MLK because I am not sure why white people feel comfortable speaking on him or what he would have thought because they cannot relate to him in any sort of way,” Kimani said.
Kimani believes President Biden favored George Floyd over MLK because his murder was more recent.
President Biden has been alive to see both the assassination of MLK and the murder of George Floyd at different points in his life. With his life’s experience, he should have made a better judgment not to decide which one had a greater impact.
Despite anyone’s opinion or understanding of Biden’s comments, it should never be acceptable for anyone to compare Black death.