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First night of virtual 2020 DNC tackles Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 pandemic


Aug. 17 (UPI) — The 2020 Democratic National Convention tackled ongoing social issues including the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic as it opened on Monday night.

Following a performance of a children’s choir singing the Star-Spangled Banner, the digital event moved into a montage of images and videos from the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that swept the nation and many parts of the world following the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on Memorial Day.

Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, remembered his brother as a “selfless” man whose spirit was reflected in the protests that followed his death.

He also declared that his brother, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson and Sandra Bland should all still be alive today.

“It’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice, our actions will be their legacies. We must always find ourselves in what John Lewis called ‘good trouble,'” he said, before leading a moment of silence for those who lost their lives to “hate and injustice.”

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy federal law enforcement to disperse peaceful protesters near St. John’s Episcopal Church as the president posed for a photo holding a Bible.

“I knew if he did this to D.C. he would do it to your city or your town and that’s when I said ‘enough.’ I said ‘enough’ for every Black and Brown American who has experienced injustice. ‘Enough’ for every American who believes in justice,” said Bowser.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., delivered a message hailing former Vice President Joe Biden as a candidate capable of unifying the country amid the ongoing injustices facing people of color.

“We will need a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job,” he said. “A president who understands the true meaning of community — and how to build it through trust and humility. And with so many families experiencing loss in this pandemic — lost jobs, lost loved ones and lost confidence in the president to keep us safe — we need a president who understands both profound loss and what it takes to bounce back.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described how his state responded to the COVID-19 pandemic after emerging as the epicenter for the virus early on in the pandemic.

“For all the pain and all the tears, our way worked. And it was beautiful,” said Cuomo. “For all the pain and all the tears, our way worked. And it was beautiful. We showed that our better angels are strong and that Americans would rise to their call. We saw that even at the end of the day, even if it is a long day, that love wins.”

Kristin Urquiza, a Phoenix woman whose father died after contracting COVID-19, declared that her father’s only pre-existing condition was “believing in Donald Trump” while pledging her vote to Biden.

Later in the evening, a group of Republicans, led by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, pledged their support for Biden while criticizing Trump’s leadership.

Kasich, who appeared before a fork in a dirt road, said the nation was at a crossroads and described Biden as a “man for our time” assuring conservatives that Biden will not “turn sharp left and leave them behind” while warning of the dangers of a second Trump term.

“Many of us have been deeply concerned about the path we have been following for the past four years,” he said. “Continuing to follow that path will have terrible consequences for America’s soul, because we are being taken down the road by a president who has pitted one against the other.”

Biden also received messages of support from his former rivals in the race for the Democratic candidacy, closed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the last to exit the race.

“My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in the primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine,” said Sanders.

Former first lady Michelle Obama closed the evening by praising Biden for his work as vice president alongside her husband, former President Barack Obama, and urging Americans to vote in November.

“Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, ‘When others are going so low, does going high still really work?'” said Obama, referencing the catchphrase she popularized during the 2016 DNC. “My answer: Going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.

She continued, declaring that Trump “is the wrong president for our country.”

“But let’s be clear: Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences,” Obama said.


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