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South Carolina has been good to Joe Biden. Voters there resurrected his presidential campaign in 2020 and have now given him his first primary win in the 2024 race.

But South Carolina is more than just numbers for Biden. It is a place where his message against hate and white supremacy has a special significance and may propel him to a second term in the White House.

As a historian who studies democracy in the American South, Joe Kelly was struck by an overlooked speech Biden delivered on Jan. 8, 2024, at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. That’s where, on a summer evening in 2015, an avowed white supremacist murdered nine Black worshippers. Eight and a half years later, a feisty Biden stood at the church’s pulpit and called white supremacy “a poison” that has “for too long haunted this nation.”

For Kelly, Biden’s speech gives clear notice that he is not only running against likely GOP opponent Donald Trump but also “a resurrection of Southern-style white nationalism and the age-old disregard for equal rights.”

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Howard Manly

Race + Equity Editor

President Joe Biden at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina on Jan. 8, 2024. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Biden is campaigning against the Lost Cause and the ‘poison’ of white supremacy in South Carolina

Joseph Patrick Kelly, College of Charleston

During a campaign speech in South Carolina, President Biden made it clear that he is not only running against Donald Trump but also against white supremacy.

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