Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

2:36 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, it is my great honor to welcome — to officially welcome, at my invitation, my Divine Nine family and these great national and international leaders.
We have so much to discuss, and I’m looking forward to our conversation.  But this invitation has been made — it was made even before we arrived at the White House, understanding the historic, the current, and the future roles of leadership that members of each of the Divine Nine organizations play in every sector of our society and in every way, both historically, currently, and in the future.
And for the President and for me, it is very important that we collaborate with our leaders, knowing that we face so many challenges as a country, knowing that we are entering, in many ways, a new era where those challenges are taking on great significance.  But also, in the midst of those challenges, we see opportunities not only for engagement, but for improvement.
And so, I have asked these Divine Nine leaders to come in to share with me your thoughts about the work that we are doing and the work we can continue to do to uplift and to reach out to all the people of our nation, understanding our capacity to always engage and to empower and to improve as a nation.  So, I thank you all.
And for those who do not know, it is leaders, historically and currently, of the Divine Nine who have been national leaders on issues like voting rights. 
You know, I was reminded and recently saw a photograph, black and white — I believe it was President Truman — but a group of Black sororities who met in the White House as suffragettes, talking about the need to ensure voting rights for the women of America.  The leaders of the fraternities of the Divine Nine who had a vision for what the civil rights movement should and could be, and then led that movement. 
I think about the leaders of industry, the leaders of our private sector, the leaders of innovation, and all those are represented by these organizations.
And as we move forward, we are also, as an administration, working to build back better.  We have some legislation that we are proposing and working on that would invest in a number of sectors of our society that will produce great growth.  One of them is our HBCUs.  And, of course, we have great presence, as each of the Divine Nine organizations at our HBCUs, as well as many other academic institutions.  And so, we’re going to talk a bit about that and what we can do to work together to support our HBCU students and graduates. 
There is a challenge right now in our nation, as we all know, with those who would attack voting rights.  As the great Coretta Scott King reminded us, the fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation.  And — and that fight then remains.  And it has, again, been Divine Nine leaders who have been the leaders in that fight and in that struggle. 
And — and we know that that is front and center for us when we look at what’s happening in places like Texas and Georgia.  And so I’m looking forward to the conversation that we will have about our continuing role to organize and uplift folks around their constitutional rights.  And — and, in short, on that piece, what we can do together to push for the enactment, the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 
And finally, again, I want to welcome each one of you and thank you for the work that you do, the work of your members.  And at this table are representatives of organizations that have formed and shaped who we are as a nation, have challenged us to live up to our ideals.  And in that way, I’m very honored to receive you in this ceremonial office of the Vice President of the United States.  So, welcome.
And I’m looking forward to our conversation.  Thank you all.
                                   END                   2:41 P.M. EDT

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