Vice President Pence in Listening Session with Faith and Community Leaders | Beltsville, MD
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for being here. I bring greetings from President Donald Trump. I’m grateful, in a challenging time in the life of our nation, that you would take time to share your insights and your counsel with us, with our administration.
I’m here with Scott Turner, who’s been leading in the advent of Opportunity Zones all across the United States. But, Bishop Jackson, we are truly grateful for the hospitality. And before we bring any remarks, I wondered if you just might favor us by opening us with a word of prayer.
My prayer is that we, as a nation, have ears to hear, to listen to one another and open hearts. And I’d be grateful if you started us with a devotion.
BISHOP JACKSON: Thank you, Vice President Pence.
Heavenly Father, we ask that you lead us in guidance. You said if just two of us agree, that we would be able to bind darkness, release light, and see the blessing of God in an arena.
Lord, let us have an agreement. Let us reason together and give wisdom to this administration, especially this Vice President and President and Scott Turner. We thank you so much for what you’re doing. And let this time be fruitful. Amen.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you, Bishop Jackson. Thank you for a warm welcome to Hope Christian Church. We gather at a challenging time in the life of our nation. And as President Trump said in the Rose Garden this morning though, in this time, we are determined, as Americans, to move forward and move forward together with a renewed commitment to equality and equality of opportunity for every American.
It is a time though when, as a nation, we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. And the American people’s hearts were broken to see the video that came from the streets of Minneapolis. The death of George Floyd was a tragedy.
And we have — we’ve said, from the very outset, justice will be served. And I want to assure all of you and those looking on that we’ve deployed the full resources of the Justice Department to support the prosecution of those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.
Let me also say that it’s clear that those images shocked the conscience of the nation. We have no tolerance for violence against any individual in this country, no tolerance for police brutality, and no tolerance for rioting in the streets or looting, the destruction of property, or the claiming of innocent lives, including the lives of law enforcement.
That’s one of the reasons the President took the strong action earlier this week, working with governors, to deploy resources and personnel to our streets.
And I’m pleased to report that, in cities across the country, we’ve quelled the violence and made space for peaceful protesters to continue to let their voice be heard. We will always stand for the right of every American to engage in peaceful protest, to seek redress of the government.
And because of the efforts of law enforcement and other personnel, we’ve moved past the violence that we saw in our streets. And we’ll continue to do that.
But I’m here today to talk about how we move forward. And I’m going to keep my remarks very brief because I’m really here to listen. I have the greatest regard for Bishop Jackson. He knows from the outset of this administration, we’ve — we’ve worked to expand opportunities for every American, including African Americans.
Before the pandemic struck, we — we — we were deeply inspired that we had achieved the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans. We’d expanded Opportunity Zones across the country that had generated over $100 billion of investment in inner cities that have too often been left behind in jobs and opportunities. We passed a criminal justice reform, which had — which had the effect of setting right inequities that were in our justice system for decades.
And in the midst of all of that, we’ve — we fought hard to expand educational opportunities and allowing parents to choose where their children go to school.
This was all in an effort to address what have been historic inequities in our African American communities and in many of the communities and families in our inner cities. And — and as we make our way through this time as a nation, our focus now is on healing, on how we heal America.
And we received encouraging news today — you may read about in the paper in the morning — that our economy is showing strong signs of healing. But we want to follow that by listening and learning and putting into practice the things that will heal our land for every American, extend equality and opportunity to every American.
And I thought it was altogether fitting to come here to a place of worship to do that. It is — it is undeniable that in the long struggle for equality in this country, people of faith have played the decisive role. And the entire quest to end slavery emanated from the churches of this country that challenged the conscience of the nation. The Civil Rights movement that happened when I was a little boy in Columbus, Indiana, I am told by those that were involved was driven out of the pews of this nation.
I had the great privilege, 10 years ago, Bishop Jackson, to take my wife and children to Alabama. We walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, arm in arm with my friend, John Lewis. But the day before, we spent time in Dr. King’s church, and there, we met with many of the people that marched with Dr. King, and they said that before they marched, they prayed and they sang, and they had worship.
And I couldn’t help but feel that as our nation reels from the tragic death of George Floyd, that a place to start the conversation is in a place of worship. It’s the wellspring of our nation’s strength. It’s been the wellspring of our national unity and our steady march toward a more perfect union.
And so I want to thank you, especially the religious leaders who are here. Thank you for your ministries. Thank you for your willingness to join us, to sit down. I’m anxious to hear your counsel and your thoughts of how we can heal our land and how we can bring the American people together.
It will not be enough just for us to heal our economy; we’ve got to heal that which divides by breaking down the barriers to opportunity to African Americans and any American that’s been left behind. And so I’m anxious to gain your insights. I promise you I’ll carry them back to President Donald Trump and our entire administration.
And today is just one of many conversations that we will have here and across the country in the days ahead. But I’m absolutely confident that with your steady counsel, with your steady leadership, and with God’s grace, we will come through this challenging time. We’ll come together, and I know we’ll move our nation forward, just as we’ve always done.
So thank you very much. And, Bishop Jackson, I’d welcome your thoughts.
Source: White House Media Release