Back in 1975, Joe Biden spoke out against the policy of “bussing” African American students to predominately white schools in order to desegregate public schools. Biden, who was in his first term as a US Senator for Delaware at the time, said that bussing was contrary to what he called “black pride.” You can hear Biden talking about the issue in a 1975 interview with NPR here.
Biden told NPR at the time that rather than continue with bussing, the government should fund inner city schools. He said he questioned the value of “knee-jerk liberal soclutions” like bussing and argued that many of his colleagues in Congress were just supporting the policy because they were afraid of looking like racists. Biden said:
“I think part of the reason why much of this had not developed is because it has been an issue that has been in the hands of the racists. And we liberals have rejected it because if George Wallace is for it, it must be bad. And so we haven’t really looked at it. Now, there’s a confluence of streams. There’s academic ferment against it. There are young black and young white leaders against it. There is social unrest which highlights it…”
But the Delaware senator also told NPR that more and more liberals were coming around to his anti-bussing point of view. He said, “It’s become respectable now for liberals to at least say in public what they’ve always said in private, that bussing doesn’t work. We are trying to come up with an innovative piece of legislation.” He said that if legislation didn’t pass, he would consider trying to get a constitutional amendment on the issue.
The Delaware senator said that he had agonized over his decision to opposing bussing; he said he asked himself — and his staff — whether he was doing the right thing and said he wanted to make sure that he wasn’t a racist:
“I give you my word as a Biden I put in over 100 hours, I would say close to 300 hours on just torturing this thing, meeting with leaders, meeting with the people in my staff, calling my staff together. And the blacks in my staff together, saying what I think. Do you think I am? Is there something inside me?”