Biden: Riley's work toward equality made Charleston one of the best places to live

VIDEO: Vice President Joe Biden speaking at tribute for Mayor Joe Riley
Published: Dec. 3, 2015 at 9:15 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2015 at 2:33 AM EST
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Biden and Riley greeting guests. (Source: WCSC)
Biden and Riley greeting guests. (Source: WCSC)
Mayor Riley arriving at the event. (Source: WCSC)
Mayor Riley arriving at the event. (Source: WCSC)
Vice President Joe Biden arrives at the event. (Source: WCSC)
Vice President Joe Biden arrives at the event. (Source: WCSC)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Vice President Joe Biden said Mayor Joe Riley's work toward equality has made Charleston one of the best places to live.

Biden spoke at the Gaillard Center at Thursday's event "A Tribute to the Mayor: 40 Years of Charleston's Shared Success."

The event presented by the Post and Courier is dedicated to Riley's long time tenure as mayor.

The vice president referenced Riley's impact in the city responding with strength following the Emanuel AME shooting.

"It's amazing how much of an impact South Carolina has had on my career," Biden said during the event.

According to Biden, a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King inspired Riley to get into politics.

"There's no doubt you could have been re-elected if you wanted," Biden told Riley. "People love you because they know you mean it, they know you care."

Biden also spoke about mayor-elect John Tecklenburg, telling him,"You poor son of a gun."

Riley thanked his wife for her support and said he achieved nothing as mayor by himself.

The event started with a video chronicling Riley's tenure as mayor and included Riley promising his wife that he would only sever one term as mayor.

"It's true, I only intended to serve one term as mayor," Riley said.

Riley says he was honored and grateful that Biden took the time to join in on the celebration, and said he had been looking forward to seeing him again.

The last time Biden was in Charleston was in June, after the Mother Emanuel AME shooting.

Featured speakers also included NBC correspondent Harry Smith and SC Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal.

Gov. Nikki Haley, Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham also thanked Riley for his service through video messages. In addition, President Barack Obama also sent a letter thanking him for his service.

Riley's 40 year tenure as Charleston's mayor will come to an end on Jan. 11, 2016.

Thursday's event is also a fundraiser for the International African American Museum, which recently received a $500,000 donation from Boeing and is set to open in 2018.

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