Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Khzir Khan and Matthew Shepard's parents: Biden is America's "compassionate" choice

Americans across the 50 states and U.S. territories highlighted the country's diversity and individual identities during the Democratic National Convention's virtual roll call officially nominating Joe Biden as the party's nominee.

The state of play: Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in combat, represented Virginia in nominating Biden. He spoke at the DNC in 2016 and held the U.S. Constitution, asking if then-candidate Donald Trump had ever read it.

  • This time, Khan spoke of how his family was attacked after Trump "praised those racists" who killed counterprotester Heather Heyer at a white nationalist rally in "my beloved city, Charlottesville," referring to when the president said there were "very fine people on both sides" at the protest.
  • He accused Trump of "turning his back on a community that just wanted peace," but called Biden a "decent compassionate man," who "will bring the nation together." 

Judy and Dennis Shepard represented the Wyoming delegation for the roll call vote. They are the parents of Matthew Shepard, a university student who was beaten death for being gay in 1998.

"After our son’s death in Wyoming, Joe Biden helped pass the legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from hate crimes. He understands more than most our grief over his death. We see in Joe so much of what made Matt's life special. Commitment to equality. Passion for social justice. And compassion for others."

Jamie Harrison, who is running for Senate against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), represented South Carolina.

Geraldine Waller represented Nebraska. Waller is a meatpacking plant employee, which have been among some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Rhode Island state Rep. Joseph McNamara said "the calamari comeback state" casts its votes for Biden.

Alicia Andrews, the Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, nominated Biden in Tulsa, where white mobs attacked black residents and their businesses in 1921.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), a former Democratic presidential candidate, nominated Biden in Ohio.

State Rep. Derrick Lente, a Native American, represented New Mexico in the roll call.

Scheena Iyande Tannis, a registered nurse and immigrant, represented New York state for the roll call.

Worth noting: A handful of those representing their state's delegation spoke in Spanish, including Rep. Veronica Escobar in Texas.

  • New York Times security guard Jacquelyn Brittany was the first person to officially nominate Biden.
Go deeper