News Release

Kozol: Biden Opposed School Desegregation, Refuses to Disown, It Wasn’t About “Civility”


JONATHAN KOZOL, jonathankozol at
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Kozol is the National Book Award-winning author of Savage InequalitiesThe Shame of the Nation, and other books on race and education. Earlier this month, he wrote the piece “When Joe Biden Collaborated With Segregationists.”

He said today: “Most of the media have missed three of the most alarming points in Biden’s stance on segregation:

“(1) Biden’s now pretending that his willingness to reach out to Southern segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge was simply a matter of consensus-building and ‘civility.’ What he isn’t saying — and what the press has failed to note — is that it was all too easy for him to reach consensus with them, as he also did with Jesse Helms and other Southern racists, because he himself was opposed to school desegregation, as he made very clear in 1975 when he said, ‘I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only course to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment.’ He also introduced anti-busing legislation of his own and warmly thanked Senator Eastland for trying to bring it to a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“(2) More to the point, as I noted in on June 6, Biden refuses to disown his original position on these issues, even today when hypersegregation in our public schools is greater than at any point since 1968. At a time when red-lining and residential segregation remain unabated, Biden surely knows that, without allowing children to ride the yellow bus across school district borders, he will be consigning another generation to separate and unequal education.”

(3) Biden made his recent comments about the ease with which he found consensus with Southern segregationists at a fundraising party for wealthy donors in New York. Would he dare to say this in front of an audience of young black and Hispanic voters? Biden’s skill at waffling and equivocation, depending on the race and class of those to whom he’s speaking, is one of several reasons why I feel compelled to oppose his nomination.”