“What I worry about for our young people is feelings of hopelessness and frustration if they don’t feel that they have a hope for their future,” said Devona Williams, chairwoman of the board of trustees at Delaware State University, which is historically black.
“Education doesn’t mean anything if we can’t go birdwatching, if we can’t jog and if we can’t go to a convenience store,” Dr. Williams said. “And if we can’t do the normal things, the normal daily living things, it creates a feeling of oppression and frustration, and all the things that are the tricks of the enemy to get us angry and then cause us to be violent.”
The Rev. Shanika Perry, the church’s youth pastor, asked Mr. Biden to meet with young black people.
“They want to be at the table,” she said. “It is not enough to have the youth pastor speaking on their behalf. They have brilliant ideas themselves.”
Black women want a seat at the table, too, Ms. Perry said, urging Mr. Biden to choose one as his running mate. Black women are the most reliable voting bloc within the Democratic Party, she noted, adding, “but when it matters, you guys don’t necessarily include us when it comes to positions of power.”
When Mr. Biden finally stood up to speak, he quoted the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard — “‘Faith sees best in the dark,’” he said, “and it’s been pretty dark” — before condemning President Trump for, he said, publicly legitimizing the racism that protesters are fighting against.
Earlier in his career, “I thought we could actually defeat hate,” Mr. Biden said. “What I realized — not just white supremacy, but hate — hate just hides. Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away. And when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen to the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks.”
Mr. Biden added that he did not take black voters for granted and that he was putting together a detailed set of policy proposals to address their concerns. He also said he believed the events of the past few months would force more Americans to confront institutionalized racism.