Following the guilty verdicts for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, President Joe Biden said he spoke to Floyd’s young daughter on Tuesday.
In a televised speech Tuesday night, Biden called the verdict a “step forward” but added that the nation still has to reckon with systemic racism in all walks of life, including policing.
He said that he was able to speak with Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, following the verdict. Biden recalled meeting the then-6-year-old at her father’s funeral last year and telling her “how brave she was” while holding her hand. Biden said he told her that Floyd is “looking down on you, he’s so proud.”
“She said to me, and I’ll never forget it, ‘Daddy changed the world,’” Biden said. “I told her this afternoon, ‘Daddy did change the world.’”
“Let that be his legacy,” he said.
Gianna went viral last summer after a video of her announcing, “Daddy changed the world” was shared on Instagram.
In the clip, originally shared by user @skrptz, Gianna sits on the shoulders of her father's close friend, Stephen Jackson.
A voice off-camera responds, “He did what?” and Gianna says again, “Daddy changed the world.”
The video appears to have been taken before or after a press event in June where Gianna’s mother, Roxie Washington, pleaded for justice.
“I wanted everybody to know that this is what those officers took from me,” Washington said at the time. “At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna does not have a father.”
“He will never see her grow up, graduate, he will never walk her down the aisle,” she continued. “If there's a problem she's having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore.
“I'm here for my baby and I'm here for George because I want justice for him. I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good,” she said, later adding that Floyd was a good father. “He loved her, he loved her so much."
In his comments Tuesday, Biden called on all Americans to end the systemic racism that has “long torn us apart.”
He assured Floyd’s family members that he would fight for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to fight police misconduct, excessive force and racial bias in policing. The bill passed in the House mostly along party lines in March and went to the Senate.
“We can’t leave this moment or look away and think our work is done,” he said. “We have to look at it as we did for those nine minutes and 20 seconds. We have to listen. ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ Those are George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him.
“We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away, we can’t turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country. It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.”