CBC member brushes off Biden’s past opposition to school busing

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) brushed off Joe Biden’s opposition to school busing in the 1970s, saying in an exclusive interview with Hill.TV, saying he wouldn’t have voted for the former vice president at the time but that was 40 years ago.

“I think we should consider it, but we’re not voting 40 years ago,” the Congressional Black Caucus member said of Biden’s opposition to using busing to desegregate schools. 

“We’re voting today and what position someone had 40 years ago I don’t thinks should be dispositive,” Scott said. “You can consider it, I think we’re voting today and the issue would be what are the issues and what are the positions that he’ll take going forward, not looking forward.” 

Pressed on whether Scott would provide such charity to a Republican member of Congress, Scott raised former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

“If we’re voting 40 years ago I don’t think I’d vote for him,” Scott said of Biden, “but you have to remember that George Wallace when he last ran for governor got received 90 percent of the African American vote in Alabama. That’s because he changed his position on, and looking forward they had more confidence in him than his opponent.” 

Wallace ran as a pro-segregation candidate for president in 1968, but by the late 1970s had become a born again Christian and renounced and apologized for his past views on segregation. He was then reelected as Alabama’s governor as a Democrat in 1982. 

Biden was a vocal opponent of school busing in his early U.S. Senate career even at one point seeking the support of segregationists, according to letters recently revealed by CNN.

School busing was a federally mandated program in the 1970’s to fulfill the Supreme Court’s mandate in Brown vs. Board of Education by bringing minority students to predominantly white school districts. 

“I think the concept of busing … that we are going to integrate people so that they all have the same access and they learn to grow up with one another and all the rest, is a rejection of the whole movement of black pride,” Biden said in a 1975 interview with NPR, adding that desegregation efforts were “a rejection of the entire black awareness concept, where black is beautiful, black culture should be studied; and the cultural awareness of the importance of their own identity, their own individuality.”

Biden’s spokesman defended his opposition to busing in a March statement to the Washington Post, saying “he never thought busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware — a position which most people now agree with,” adding “as he said during those many years of debate, busing would not achieve equal opportunity. And it didn’t.”

-Saagar Enjeti

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