Joe Biden Claims ‘Literal’ Role in Civil Rights Act – President Joe Biden dropped a political bombshell this week, claiming he single-handedly convinced the late Senator Strom Thurmond to vote for the Civil Rights Act when he would have been just 21 years old.
Speaking at the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law at the White House, Biden declared, “Pause for just a moment. I thought things had changed.”
Then, with a dramatic flourish, he announced, “I was able to — literally, not figuratively — talk Strom Thurmond into voting for the Civil Rights Act before he died.”
“And I thought, ‘well, maybe there’s real progress,'” he added. “But hate never dies, it just hides. It hides under the rocks.”
But here’s the jaw-dropping fact-check: Biden was born on November 20, 1942. The Civil Rights Act passed the Senate on June 19, 1964. That means the President would have been a mere 21 years old at the time and nowhere near the Senate seat he eventually won at the age of 29.
During this period, Biden was a student in History and Politics at the University of Delaware in Newark.
Not to mention that Strom Thurmond, who once held the record for the longest filibuster in Senate history against civil rights legislation, didn’t die until June 2003, nearly four decades after the Civil Rights Act passed.
The White House tried to smooth over this whopper by telling Fox News that Biden was instrumental in getting Thurmond’s vote for the Voting Rights Act 1980. But the President’s claim about the Civil Rights Act remains baffling.
Biden’s comments came in the wake of an incident in Jacksonville, Florida, where a 21-year-old white male shot and killed three Black people at a Dollar General store.
Joe Biden’s past praise of senators who supported segregation has previously garnered him criticism.
During the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination, then Senator Kamala Harris criticized her future boss for speaking positively about senators who built their careers on racial segregation and for working with them against busing.
Biden defended himself by stating, “I do not praise racists.” However, fact checkers note that Biden does have a history of praising senators who supported segregation, although he has claimed that many of them changed their positions on civil rights over time.
For instance, Biden praised Thurmond, who ran as a segregationist candidate in 1948, by comparing him to Confederate General Robert E. Lee during Thurmond’s 90th birthday celebration in 1993.
Similarly, Biden referred to Mississippi Senator John Stennis, a staunch segregationist, as a “hero” and “the rockbound integrity of the United States Congress” in the 1980s. He also called Stennis “a hell of a guy” in 2008.
To be fair, however, Biden has maintained that both Stennis and Thurmond evolved in their views on racial segregation. Upon Thurmond’s death, Biden expressed his belief that the senator was not fundamentally racist.
In his Senate farewell address in 2009, Biden explained that despite their differing views on civil rights, he developed personal friendships with senators like Eastland, Stennis, and Thurmond, who initially played a significant role in motivating him to join the Senate to advocate for change.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.
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