Biden Invokes Former Segregationist in South Carolina Again

WASHINGTON, : Senator Ernest Hollings, D-SC, holds up a copy of the New York Times after the Senate voted to pass the airline security bill 16 November 2001 on Capitol Hill. A House vote later in the day sends the bill, a product of weeks of negotiations, to US President …
TEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden invoked the late-Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC), a former segregationist, while addressing the South Carolina Democrat Party’s convention on Saturday.

“The only thing I miss is my buddy Fritz Hollings, he was one of my mentors and I’m sorry he’s not here,” Biden said.

Hollings, who passed away earlier this year, started his career as a segregationist Democrat and evolved in later life. In 1958, he was elected governor of South Carolina as an opponent of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in public schools. By the end of his gubernatorial term in January 1963, Hollings had come out in favor integration. Although, it is noted that desegregation of the state’s public education system did not occur until after he left the office.

As a member of the U.S. Senate from 1966 to 2006, Hollings was known as a moderate to liberal Democrat. The issue of race, however, always remained a complicated topic. This was exhibited in 1993, when Hollings elicited backlash for saying that African diplomats only went to international trade conferences so they could “get a good square meal” and not be forced into “eating each other.”

Saturday marked the second time that Biden has referenced Hollings since arriving in South Carolina. The former vice president referenced Hollings while addressing Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-SC) annual fish fry on Friday evening.

Biden drew widespread condemnation for praising the “civility” of two other ardent segregationist Democrats — the late-Sens. James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA) — at a fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday.

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