Vice President Mike Pence declined to say the words “Black lives matter” during an interview with an ABC affiliate in Pennsylvania on Friday, instead saying that “all lives matter.”
“Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy,” Pence told 6ABC Action News in Philadelphia when asked directly if he would say that Black lives matter. “And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation we’ve cherished the ideal that all, all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense.”
Juneteenth, however, commemorates the end of slavery in America, which happened nearly a century after the nation’s founding.
The distinction between saying “Black lives matter” and “all lives matter” has emerged as something of a cultural dividing line amid the nationwide discussion about racial equality that has been touched off in recent weeks.
The phrase “Black lives matter” has gained widespread use in recent years as a way to draw attention specifically to deadly encounters between Black Americans and police.
“Forgive me for pressing you on this, sir,” anchor Brian Taff said to Pence, “but I will note you did not say those words, ‘Black lives matter,’ and there is an important distinction. People are saying, of course all lives matter, but to say the words is an acknowledgment that Black lives also matter at a time in this country when it appears that there’s a segment of our society that doesn’t agree. So why will you not say those words?”
“Well, I don’t accept the fact, Brian, that there’s a segment of American society that disagrees, in the preciousness and importance of every human life,” Pence said.
Pence went on to tout the Black unemployment rate pre-pandemic and the development of economic “opportunity zones,” adding that the administration is “absolutely determined to improve” the lives of African Americans.
“And yet, one final time, you won’t say the words and we understand your explanation,” Taff responded.
The vice president was also asked about a video that President Donald Trump posted to Twitter on Thursday that was labeled “manipulated media” by the social network.
“When you watch much of the national news media these days, Brian, it seems like they focus more every day on what divides us in this country,” Pence said. “And I think the President saw an opportunity with a good sense of humor to once again challenge the media narrative.”
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