In a recent campaign address, President Joe Biden found himself under scrutiny for repeating a disputed claim about his involvement in the civil rights movement. This statement, which has been a point of contention in the past, resurfaced as Biden sought to emphasize the dangers of white supremacy during a visit to the Bethel AME Church in Charleston, SC, a site tragically known for the 2015 shooting by Dylan Roof.
President Biden asserted that he had spent significant time in the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and claimed it as the starting point of his civil rights activism. However, this claim has been challenged in the past, with congregants and a former assistant to the pastor of Wilmington’s Union Baptist Church stating they do not recall Biden’s participation in civil rights organizing sessions there.
Biden himself has previously acknowledged that he was not actively involved in the civil rights movement. In a 1987 statement, he admitted, “I was not an activist. I was not out marching. I was not down in Selma. I was not anywhere else.” This admission contrasts sharply with his recent assertions and has raised questions about the authenticity of his claims.
The issue of Biden’s civil rights record has been a topic of political debate, even within his own party. During the 2020 Democratic primaries, Vice President Kamala Harris criticized Biden for his past comments about working with segregationist senators, describing it as personally “hurtful.”
Biden’s tendency to embellish his past extends beyond the civil rights movement. He has claimed to have been raised in various cultural communities, including black churches, synagogues, the Puerto Rican community, and a Polish community. These assertions have been viewed by some as an attempt to connect with diverse voter bases.
The President’s recent remarks come at a time when he is reportedly losing support among Black voters, a key demographic for the Democratic Party. His approach of invoking past civil rights struggles and warnings about white supremacy appears to be a strategy to regain this support. However, the authenticity of his claims and the effectiveness of this strategy remain subjects of debate and scrutiny.
This development in Biden’s re-election campaign highlights the complex interplay between personal history, political rhetoric, and voter trust in the ever-evolving landscape of American politics.