What Will Biden’s Legacy On Civil Rights Look Like?

Finally, we have President Joe Biden. It’s been a long time coming! Many were certain it would not happen even after he was justly elected. But Trump is gone and, while Trumpism may remain in one form or another for years, his voice has been drowned out by those who wish to move forward — and there are more of us. And looking forward means that we have to ask whether or not Biden will uphold his many promises on racial justice and lasting equity.

Progressives and civil rights leaders around the country have made one thing very clear to the new president: They will not let up for one single second while there is work to be done.

And that leaves us with good news and bad news. The good news: A few executive orders signed by the new president make small gains in the civil rights arena — and this is after Biden said that such executive actions were outside his authority — but they have been overshadowed by undoing the damage Trump by reversing the former president’s own executive orders, from the Muslim ban to separating families at the border. This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. Not yet.

The bad news: Biden seems poised to focus his efforts on putting into place the framework for a strong economy and providing the means for the renewable energy sector to take off. And let’s face the facts. We can hardly see that as bad news. In fact, in the long term it will undeniably be a good thing for everyone, minorities included at the top of that list. 

That’s because saving our planet will protect us against displacement and war, both of which adversely affect minorities more than anyone else. The same is true of the coronavirus. African Americans are one of the hardest hit groups. Biden’s gambit to inject over a trillion dollars into the economy should help them.

But again, it’s not enough. We’ll have to wait and see where the legacy goes from here.

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