Academic Appropriation? Biden Appears To Claim Attendance At A Historically Black College

A tape has surfaced of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden bizarrely claiming that he “started” at a historically black college in speaking to supporters in South Carolina during the primary. Biden has never made any mention of going to Delaware State University and it is not clear why the many reporters in attendance at the event did not ask when he attended a HBCU. Indeed, he would be the first president to claim such a distinction. He might also have been inartfully referencing his start as a politician. Alternatively, this would seem like an academic version of cultural appropriation. It would seem a valid point of clarification for the media.

This story obviously created an immediate buzz among professors who tend to track academic credentials and associations of presidents and other leaders. It would certainly be a significant story if a president attended a HBCU but I am not sure what Biden meant by his statement.

Most obvious interpretation was that Biden was claiming to have been a student at Delaware State when he spoke at October 2019 town hall event held at the historic Wilson High School in Florence. The school was founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Bureau for Black children.  He stated “I got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State — now, I don’t want to hear anything negative about Delaware State,” Biden told the crowd, as shown on video. “They’re my folks.”


The university has stated that he was never a student there. It said that it has only records of a couple of visits as a commencement speaker.

The statement is so weird that I have tried to find an alternative meaning.  One possibility was that he got a job teaching there. However, he never claims such a position.  I am not sure when that could have happened. He became a bar member in 1969 and was elected the very next year to the New Castle County Council in 1970. Two years later he was elected to the United States Senate.

Another possibility is that he is claiming that he started his political career at the school, but again the campaign has said nothing and his own book does not mention the connection.  Did he launch his campaign for the New Castle County Council at the university? I believe the university is about 45 minutes away in Dover from New Castle.  He might be referencing his start for the Senate.  The campaign however has gone days without explaining if there was a speech launching his campaign from the university (though that would raise some issues on the use of a state school).  Absent such an explanation, the clear impression is that he attended a HCBU as a student.

Biden has been previously criticized for false claims ranging from graduating in the top half of his class to having three degrees from college to being the first in his family to attend college to coming from a family of coal miners  to being arrested in trying to meet with Nelson Mandela.

Obviously, President Donald Trump has also been regularly and correctly flagged for false statements, including denials of his prior statements. I have joined in that criticism. Yet, that is no reason to also demand accuracy or explanations from his opponent.  If President Trump made such a statement, it would have had every network and newspaper demanding clarification or proof.

The story also magnifies the concerns over the lack of serious journalism surrounding Biden, who has been routinely given softball questions and faced little scrutiny from the press corp. Interviews with Biden have been cringeworthy as reporters from major media seem to actively assist the campaign in staging favorable pressers. I could not find any reporting of this extraordinary statement when it was made in the primary. There is still little reporting. If this video is false, it is a major story. If it is true, it is an even greater story. Yet, once again, there has been virtually no coverage of the claim. I seriously do not know what to make of the story but there seems very little interest in whether Biden is the product of a HCBU or falsely claimed such a status.  Biden can simply clarify the point. As an academic, I am honestly interested in what role a HCBU played in his career and I do not believe that this is a major scandal. Yet, if it was a reference to launching his career from the Delaware State campus, it is incredibly interesting. Indeed, with the discussion of HCBU funding throughout the campaign (including in his speech), it would seem something that the campaign would have been emphasizing.


65 thoughts on “Academic Appropriation? Biden Appears To Claim Attendance At A Historically Black College”

  1. Thinking about Ruth “Baby-Killer” Ginsber not getting buried until tomorrow, and flopped out up there on the catafalque until then, I wonder what will happen some day in the future when St. Peter greets Joe Biden with a hearty, “You’re a lying dog faced pony soldier, Joe!”

    Crying In One’s Bier???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    I wonder if when Biden croaks?
    How soon they will start making jokes-
    About “lying in state”
    And his falsehoods to date,
    And which lie was the best one he spoke.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  2. Education, college, tuition, scholarships, work years ahead. These topics are on many folks minds. Here is a good example of what I e patent and don are doing. Dad has a law firm he heads. No partners but two lawyer employees. Two twin sons. Both going to community college in first year this month and both in the liberl arts program. Son one is going to be a teacher. Son two has worked in dad’s law office five summers in a row as well as every Saturday. He will do two years at community college and transfer to a four year state university in town and major in American history. Focus on American revolution and Constitution. Then state university law school unless he gets a full scholarship at a private law school. Then work at the law office for life.
    Frugal yet fine approach.

  3. Jill Biden certainly knows her husband is losing it and still she allows the Democratic party to use him like a prop. What has happened to that party? It’s as though when Obama said he wanted to fundamentally transform this country, he had to fracture his own party in the process. Trump’s victory broke them. This is no longer a political party for the good of the United States. They’ve become a China-Russia hybrid with just enough US flavor to make them palatable to those branded with a D.

  4. Sorry, I cant get too upset about this. Everyone knows politicians lie or they would not be a politician. And if people don’t nt know they lie, they have their head buried in the sand ( or somewhere else that just as dark).

  5. Biden went to the most elite of the Catholic high schools in Delaware. To be fair, it was the closest Catholic school to his home. I grew up a few miles away and went to the working class counterpart. My uncle knew his father and my cousin worked for him (Joe). There is zero chance he ever attended Delaware State. Zero.

  6. What is the gender correct version of Pocahantas? or you could use the Lizzie Borden Warren took an axe name and make it Lizard Biden Warnya had a tax gave his country40 whacks when he saw what he had down said. ‘let’s double what we have and add some more.

    He was asked why and said, ‘I’ve been supporting socialism for fifty years and thanks to Mr. Soros see no problem with the pay scale.

  7. “…and it is not clear why the many reporters in attendance at the event did not ask when he attended a HBCU”

    Is this a joke? So is there something about liberals and democrats that blocks their brain off from seeing reality? The media has been treating him with kids gloves the entire year so it is not hard to grasp why they didn’t ask him about this. They deny he has obvious dementia, they brush off his numerous screw ups (200 million dead from covid-19 being one example), they never ask him any non beachball type question. The way they treat him compared to trump is so blatantly obvious that one has to truly be mentally ill to not see it.

    Either Turley is almost as nuts as Biden and actually thinks the pathetic media is unbiased or he knows full well the media is absolutely corrupt and useless but is trying to pretend as though they are unbiased and not simply the propaganda arm of the DNC. How many more times does the media have to be caught pushing a lie for some to get this?

    I’ve never seen anyone dealing with as much cognitive dissonance as Turley. The guy constantly writes about stories that show how insane the DNC has become, how bad and biased the media is, and yet he refuses to just come out and say “these people are horrible and a threat to the entire country” since he seems to keep trying to hold onto the belief this is the party of JFK and that the media is the type of media you see in movies that just wants to get to the truth. He’s a democrat voter that simply can’t accept the party has gone crazy and that he needs to drop them like most sane people that have accepted reality are doing.

    1. I think he has many times called out the DNC. Perhaps you missed dome of his pieces? His latest one tells how they’ve strayed from JFK. I was a Democrat for 50 years,totally loyal. No more.

      1. Well them I hope you are a billionaire because if Trump wins again there will be no Social Security, no Medicare, no protection for pre existing conditions, no clean water or air. But no worries you’ll get a tax breaks on your second private plane!

        1. “if Trump wins again there will be no Social Security, no Medicare, no protection for pre existing conditions, no clean water or air.”

          You may want to lay off the hallucinogens for at least a few months, Holmes.

Leave a Reply