Biden Said In 1977 That Desegregation Would Create ‘A Racial Jungle’

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Written by Dana Sanchez
racial jungle
Comments from Joe Biden’s past are haunting him including saying in the ’70s that non-“orderly” racial integration would cause his children to “grow up in a racial jungle.” In this Dec. 13, 1972 photo, newly-elected Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is shown on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo, File)

Comments from Joe Biden’s past are haunting him including saying in the ’70s that non-“orderly” racial integration would cause his children to “grow up in a racial jungle.” In this Dec. 13, 1972 photo, newly-elected Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is shown on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo, File)

As presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s record on racial issues comes under increased scrutiny, comments from his past are haunting him including one where he said that non-“orderly” racial integration would cause his children to “grow up in a racial jungle.”

Biden denies that he opposed voluntary busing in the 1970s, but he was one of the Senate’s most vocal opponents of federally-mandated busing, according to a New York Times article. The Times reported Biden’s comments on busing and desegregation in a July 2019 article.

Daria Roithmayr, a University of Southern California Law School professor and scholar, found Biden’s jungle quote, which appears to be from a 1977 congressional hearing related to anti-busing legislation, Business Insider reported. Biden emphasized wanting to “insure we do have orderly integration of society,” adding he was “not just talking about education but all of society.”

Biden worried that court-ordered busing would cause resentment among Black and white students and lead to a “race war”.

“He emerged as the Democratic Party’s leading anti-busing crusader — a position that put him in league with Southern segregationists,” Astead W. Herndon and Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote for the Times.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places.

“Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point,” Biden said.

Sen. Kamala Harris challenged Biden’s opposition to busing and put it in the spotlight on June 27, 2019 during the first Democratic primary debate.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said. “That little girl was me.”

When it came to integration, The Times reported that Biden preferred expanding affordable housing in suburbs over busing, and that he teamed up with segregationist Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina on an amendment to try and stop the federal government from being able to withdraw funding as a punishment for school districts that did not sufficiently integrate their student bodies. 

Biden did not hold out much hope for busing white students from the suburbs to predominantly Black schools. “You take people who aren’t racist, people who are good citizens, who believe in equal education and opportunity, and you stunt their children’s intellectual growth by busing them to an inferior school, and you’re going to fill them with hatred,” he said.

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Biden also worried, he said, about busing a hypothetical Black male child to a predominantly white school, then busing him “back to the ghetto. How can he be encouraged to love his white brothers?”

While he was fighting busing, Biden enrolled his sons in a private school, the Times reported. In his 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep,” Biden described court-ordered busing as “a liberal train wreck”.

Biden also opposes reparations for American descendants of slavery.

If he’s elected president, Biden will reinstate Obama-era policies “designed to increase the diversity of our schools,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in July 2019.