Former Vice President Joe Biden inaccurately claimed on Saturday to have received his start at a historically black college or university (HBCU), despite never having attended such an institution.
Biden, who has history of exaggerating his civil rights involvement, made the claim during a campaign town hall in South Carolina, while talking about his plan for education.
“I got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State, I don’t want to hear anything negative about Delaware State here, okay,” the 76-year-old former vice president said. “But all kidding aside, the fact is that HBCUs are in trouble financially.”
It is unclear exactly what Biden meant by getting “started out” of Delaware State University, especially as the former vice president never attended the historically black university. Instead, Biden is a graduate of University of Delaware – which, although founded in 1743, only desegregated under court order in 1950 – and the Syracuse University School of Law.
This is not the first time the former vice president has exaggerated or misstated large portions of his career and background as he seeks the highest office in the land. In particular, Biden has often cited his work in the civil rights movement as the impetus for his political career.
“I never thought coming out of the civil rights movement, that I’d see people walking out in fields, carrying torches,” Biden said in August, when accusing the Trump administration of emboldening racists during a speech at Limestone College in South Carolina.
The former vice president has made such claims even though there is little evidence to back them up. Apart from taking part in a few desegregation protests as a teenager in Delaware, no record exists he was part of the central episodes of the civil rights movement throughout the 1960s. In fact, after his raduating law school in 1968, there is no mention of Biden being active in the civil rights movement, let alone serving as one of its leaders. Although evidence is scant, Biden has repeatedly invoked his work in the movement as a defining feature of his adulthood.
Such exaggerations were particularly noted during Biden’s initial foray into presidential politics during the race for the 1988 Democrat nomination. As Breitbart News previously reported, Biden consistently lied during that campaign about having “marched” in the civil rights movement when presenting himself as a candidate of generational change.
“When I marched in the Civil Rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program,” Biden told a group of New Hampshire school children in 1987. “I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes, and we changed attitudes.”
As Matt Flegenheimer of the the New York Times pointed out, however, the candidate had in fact never marched. Flegenheimer wrote:
More than once, advisers had gently reminded Mr. Biden of the problem with this formulation: He had not actually marched during the civil rights movement. And more than once, Mr. Biden assured them he understood — and kept telling the story anyway.
The exaggeration, along with Biden’s propensity for plagiarism, eventually forced him to abandon his presidential bid before a single vote was cast.