“We can’t turn away. We must not turn away,” Biden said in a video address from his home in Delaware to the Fountain of Praise church in Houston.
“We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul, from systemic abuse that still plagues American life,” he continued.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Houston church on Tuesday to honor Floyd, who died last month after a police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck. The officer and three others have been fired and face charges. Floyd will be buried next to his mother in Pearland, Texas.
Biden, who met privately with the Floyd family on Monday, cited his own experience with the loss of loved ones and having to grieve in front of the nation.
“As I have said to you privately, we know. We know you will never feel the same again,” Biden said. “Unlike most, you must grieve in public. It is a burden. A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd.”
The former vice president also directly addressed Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna, saying other black children have had to experience similar losses as a result of racism.
“I know you have a lot of questions, honey. No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations: ‘Why? Why is daddy gone?'” he said to applause.
Since Floyd’s death Biden has participated in listening sessions with members of the black community and delivered an address last week on how he would combat systemic racism as president. The former vice president has also voiced his support for peaceful protests happening across the nation.
However, Biden said he does not agree with calls to defund police departments, arguing that reforms need to take place inside departments.
“No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness,” he told CBS News on Monday evening.