Since taking office in 2020, President Joe Biden seems to be dodging the issue of reparations for the ancestors of former slaves. Even the revelation in 2021 that he comes from a family of slavemakers hasn’t pushed him toward aggressively promoting reparations.
In 2021, genealogists reportedly found evidence that Biden’s paternal colonial ancestors owned slaves. West Virginia-based genealogist Alexander Bannerman and lineage expert Gary Boyd Roberts uncovered the president’s ties to slavery.
Following the 2020 presidential election, Bannerman and Roberts laid out Biden’s genealogy for the winter 2021 issues of the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s American Ancestors Magazine.
They found that two of Biden’s ancestors on his father’s side owned slaves while residing in Maryland, The New York Post reported.
Jesse Robinett, the president’s great-great-great-grandfather, owned two people in Allegany County, according to the 1800 Census. Thomas Randle, another third-great-grandfather of Biden, owned one slave, a 14-year-old boy, in Baltimore County in 1850, the researchers found.
Bannerman argued that Biden’s ties to slavery are not nearly as strong as many other American families.
“Not a lot of ancestors, and not a lot of slaves,” he told Politico.
Reparations advocates have long been urging Biden to make a move on reparations. During Juneteenth observations in 2022, they called on Biden to act on the proposed reparations study, H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. They even protested near the White House.
A White House official told ABC News at the time President Biden still “supports a study of reparations and the continued impacts of slavery, but he is very clear that we don’t need a study to advance racial equity.”
The official added, “he is taking comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today, including an executive order on his first day in office establishing a whole-of-government approach to addressing racial inequality and making sure equity is a part of his entire policy agenda.”
President Joe Biden talks about health care during a visit to the Kempsville Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, Va., Feb. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)