Why you can’t judge Joe Biden for being anti-integration

Joe Biden’s candidacy is controversial to say the least. His notoriety originates from a high-profile case of plagiarism…
The civil rights march on Washington with a procession of African Americans carrying signs for equal rights and integrated schools, Washington DC, August 28, 1963. (Photo by Warren K Leffler/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Joe Biden’s candidacy is controversial to say the least. His notoriety originates from a high-profile case of plagiarism as well as a senate career built on associations with and mentoring from segregationists such as senator Strom Thurman. 

His censure does not stop at an ‘association’ with senators who advocated for segregation. Many critique Biden for compromising his “strong feelings against southern views” in order to maintain his personal relationships with high ranking politicians and senators. However, education policy researchers and political specialists stated that Biden did not mindlessly follow segregationists – he equally led a charge that kept black students away from the classrooms of white students. He worked tirelessly legislating against school integration and helped advocate for a more comprehensive set of “separate but equal” principles. 

Contrary to what it seems, Biden’s obstruction of the concept of racial integration was not at all discriminatory. He was a leader on anti-desegregation busing, a principle that assigned and transported students to schools in a forced attempt at reducing racial segregation. Although this principle was deemed effective to some level, Biden was only advocating against federal imposed busing. The court mandated order is fairly romanticized, thus why Biden’s resistance was completely misconceived.

As Biden said in an interview with the CNN program “Newsmaker” in July 1981, “the least effective remedy to be imposed is the busing remedy.” When cross-town busing was ordered by courts, white families relocated to the suburbs or found their ‘safe havens’ in private schools. 

Gradually, there were less and less white kids to integrate with; nonetheless, black kids continuously volunteered to spend hours every day on buses, commuting to schools that could offer them valuable opportunities and better facilities. Black students who transferred to schools in better neighborhoods reaped the rewards of the integrated environment. However, Numerous studies analyzed the reduction of poverty as a result of an integrated academic environment, showing that desegregated schools were conducive achievement; particularly for ethnic minorities increasing the prospect of continuing to higher level education.

Biden’s ‘civility’ with segregationist senators was essentially for the benefit of his purpose. Biden referring to Ex-Georgia senator, Herman Talmadge, once said “one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys. Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished.” In spite of the fact that he disagreed with his politics, such ‘civility’ got things done; he knew, nay knowns, how to navigate the system. Although his method is conventional, Biden is fundamentally stating what we all know is true ‘you don’t have to like who you’re with to work.’ He is adaptable, he has the tolerance to work with people he does not necessarily agree with; an attitude that can and will help America evolve.

Busing was a short-term solution to the problem of school segregation. It was a flawed instrument in the never-ending struggle of attaining a future with equally distributed opportunities. Yes, several black and Latino kids reaped the rewards of busing; but we cannot afford to reestablish a principle that was fundamentally a quick fix to the issue of racial segregation. The reality of it was; white enrollment plummeted, and many sent to distant schools dropped out. The solution to centuries of racial segregation will never be that simple.

So Democrats cannot attempt to use this as a political weapon against Biden, because he was inherently right. In American politics, I cannot fully support a candidate. But I can and will advocate that Biden is, in this case, the lesser of two evils. 

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