Jun 28, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden's record on busing to integrate schools

Then-Senator Joe Biden in 1974 and a young Kamala Harris

Then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) in 1974 (L) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) when she was a schoolgirl (R). Photo: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images/Sen. Kamala Harris' Twitter

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) dragged former Vice President Joe Biden’s record on civil rights into the bright lights of Thursday's debate stage, as she confronted him about his voting record on busing to integrate schools.

Driving the news: Harris spoke from personal experience: She was in the second class to integrate schools in Berkeley, Calif. Almost 10 days earlier, other Democratic rivals for the White House criticized Biden for describing his relationship with segregationists in the Senate, who had helped him pass an anti-busing amendment.

Flashback: The Supreme Court ruled in 1954 school segregation was unconstitutional, but two decades passed before changes began. The Supreme Court upheld the use of busing to integrate schools in 1971, but many Americans fought the change, including Biden.


  • In 1974 Biden opposed a measure that would have blocked busing, Politico reports.
  • But later that year, Biden said: "I have become convinced that busing is a bankrupt concept," according to PolitiFact.
  • He introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that blocked federal funds to bus students or “assign students or teachers by race” to a school. It passed in 1975.
  • Biden thanked well-known segregationist Sen. James O. Eastland (D-Miss.) for Eastland's support in passing the Biden Amendment.

Go deeper: Kamala Harris' night: Schools Biden on busing

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