President Joe Biden on Monday repeated a claim that he had been “involved” with the civil rights movement — an assertion he retracted decades ago, but resumed making in more recent years.
He made the remark during a teachers’ event at the White House as he claimed one of his professors at the University of Delaware, Dr. David Ingersoll, encouraged him to run for public office.
“He looked at me and said ‘Joe, you should run,'” Biden said. “I said, ‘But I feel strongly about all these issues, but — I got involved in the civil rights movement.’ He said, ‘Joe, you should do it.’
The claim is one Biden disavowed in a September 1987 speech after he spent a sizable portion of his Senate career disseminating it. The reversal came as he sought to clarify his record in advance of the 1988 presidential election, in which he declared his candidacy three months earlier.
“During the 60s, I was in fact very concerned about the civil rights movement,” Biden said at the time. However, he added, “I was not an activist. I worked at an all-Black swimming pool on the east side of Wilmington, Delaware. I was involved. I was involved in what they were thinking, what they were feeling. I was involved. But I was not out marching. I was not down in Selma. I was not anywhere else. I was a suburbanite kid who got a dose of exposure to what was happening to Black Americans in my own city.”
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