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Biden Claims He Marched To Protest Segregation; Where's the Proof?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination largely because of massive support from black voters. A CNN poll two weeks ago showed Biden ahead of his rivals at 28%, with Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at 17% and 14%, respectively.


Biden's support among black voters has been critical. About its poll, CNN writes: "Biden's averaged 49% among all potential black Democratic primary voters in our last two CNN national polls. That's good enough not only for a 35-point lead over his Democratic competitors, but good enough to beat all of them combined by about 10 points." Biden, who prides himself on his relationship with black voters, clearly benefits from his eight years of service to the popular Barack Obama.

But do most blacks know that for decades Biden has bragged about "marching" and "protesting" to fight to "desegregate movie theaters and things like that" -- and that there is zero evidence of any of this?

Campaigning in Iowa last week, Biden said: "Well, I got my education ... in the black church. Not a joke -- because when we used to get organized on Sundays to go out and desegregate movie theaters and things like that, we'd do it through the black church. I got to admit to you I'd go to my Catholic mass at 7:30 first, and then I'd show up in the black church." It's a narrative, or the latest version of a narrative, he has pushed for decades.

In 1983, at the New Jersey Democratic Convention, Biden said: "When I was 17, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses. And my stomach turned upon hearing the voices of (Arkansas Democratic Gov. Orval) Faubus and (Alabama Democratic Gov. George) Wallace. My soul raged upon seeing (Birmingham, Alabama Commissioner of Public Safety) Bull Connor and his dogs." He ended his speech by wiping tears from his eyes. The Baltimore Sun interviewed Biden in 1986 and reported, "As a young man, he took part in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants along U.S. 40 in Delaware." A Morning News article in September 1975 said that Biden "joined in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants along U.S. 40 before he joined the Senate." In February 1987, at the California Democratic convention, Biden repeated, "When I was 17 years old, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses of Wilmington, Delaware."


A few months ago, The New York Times wrote: "In ... 1987 ... more than once, advisers had gently reminded Mr. Biden of the problem with this formulation: He had not actually marched during the civil rights movement. And more than once, Mr. Biden assured them he understood -- and kept telling the story anyway." According to an article in The Atlantic: "By September 1987, his campaign press secretary clarified to The New York Times that Biden 'did participate in action to desegregate one restaurant and one movie theater.' Or as Biden once explained at a 1987 news conference, he'd been concerned about civil rights as a teenager, but he 'was not out marching.'"

But is there even evidence of Biden's more modest assertion? Not according to the conservative Washington Examiner: "Civil rights activists in Wilmington and the University of Delaware while Biden was a student said they don't recall him participating in any demonstrations. A historian who wrote a book about the Route 40 Project (referring to the action to desegregate restaurants along that route) and the Freedom Riders movement said he was unaware of Biden's involvement. ...

"At the University of Delaware, where Biden was a freshman, a group called the Student Committee Against Discrimination was taking the lead on Route 40-related demonstrations. ... One of the group's leaders, Duane Nichols, a graduate student at the time, told the Washington Examiner that he compiled the list of segregated restaurants that CORE targeted along Route 40. He said he does not recall Biden participating in protest activities."


Rachel Dolezal, a white woman, lied, claiming she was black, and became a chapter head of the NAACP. Sen. Warren falsely called herself a Native American before admitting that she was not. As to Biden's repeated, unverified claims of having battled segregation as a teenager, when can we expect the left-stream media to apply Trump-like scrutiny? If the media won't, Trump will.

Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder.

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