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Wilberforce grad delivering inauguration benediction reflects on time with Biden

By Zack Frink

A graduate of both Wilberforce University and Payne Theological Seminary will deliver the benediction during President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman, a pastor for 27 years at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, said he was rapidly selected to give the inaugural benediction.

"I got a text message from President-elect Biden and asked if I was available for a telephone conversation," said Beaman. "I text him back and said 'Yes.' In about 10 seconds later, he called me and simply said a few words about our friendship and asked if I would be available on the twentieth to pronounce the benediction at the inaugural."

He said his benediction will focus on diversity, inclusion and healing the nation.

Beaman has been a close friend, confidant and spiritual advisor to the Biden family for years. He said Biden has spoken at his church and he joined him on the campaign trail before.

"I traveled with him when he ran for president in 2008 and remember the fond memories riding the Amtrak between here [Wilmington] and New York City," said Beaman. "We sat side by side for that hour and a half train ride."

He was also strong friends with Beau Biden. Beaman said he prayed with Beau before his overseas deployment, during his fight against brain cancer and participated in his funeral.

He recalls his time at Wilberforce as some of the best years of his life. Beaman also credits the institution for shaping him into the man he is today.

"What I really appreciated about Wilberforce and appreciated about HBCUs, they took the time out to focus on the students," he said. "So if I had a problem — whether that was a financial problem, an emotional problem, a spiritual problem — there was somebody at Wilberforce a teacher, professor, adviser, a student that was able to meet me at my level of need and I appreciate that and that has changed my life drastically."

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