Biden likely to face pro-Palestine protests at iconic Morehouse College

The mainly Black institution of Martin Luther King Jr has been site of protests calling for end to the killings in Gaza.

Biden speaks at Atlanta University Center Consortium, on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, on January 11, 2022 in Atlanta [Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]Published On 19 May 202419 May 2024

Joe Biden is likely to be greeted by protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip during his speech at the former university of Martin Luther King Jr in the United States president’s latest bid to attract Black voters.

Biden’s graduation speech on Sunday at Morehouse College in Atlanta in the election battleground state of Georgia is aimed at encouraging Black and young voters to help him win later this year against former President Donald Trump.

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Those were two groups that helped him win the presidency in 2020, but have been increasingly dissatisfied with him due to the handling of the war on Gaza, which has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians so far, mostly women and children.

The protests at Morehouse, a historically Black college, come after students called on the school to cancel Biden’s speech over his support for Israel despite the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The White House last week sent a senior official to meet students and faculty members at Morehouse to discuss the objections to Biden’s speech, according to US broadcaster NBC News.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday said Biden sought to use the speech as “an opportunity to lift up and to give an important message to our future leaders”.

Bernice King, the civil icon’s daughter, told Bloomberg in an interview last week that Black voters are “very disgruntled right now with the president” and that Biden risks losing a considerable share of their votes.

The civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had said Biden should not speak at Morehouse.

“His team should have made the decision that this is not the right time to take the spotlight from Morehouse students to the president and his bad policy on Gaza,” CAIR’s Edward Ahmed Mitchell said.

The controversy over the Morehouse speech is coming after weeks of major protests at US universities, including the Atlanta college, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment from Israel.

Biden said “order must prevail” on campuses, and police have made thousands of arrests across the US while attacking student encampments.

Protesters were arrested during a violent police crackdown in New York’s Brooklyn on Saturday, while hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Washington, DC to demand an end to bloodshed in Gaza and the arming of Israel by the US.

The protests, which have spread globally, are continuing amid the Israeli ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, along with a deadly incursion into Jabalia in the north.

Meanwhile, Israel is allowing very little aid into the enclave, and the US is proceeding with a much-criticised plan to deliver humanitarian assistance via a temporary floating pier.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies