Joe Biden’s history of dubious stances on racially charged issues came back to haunt him again Friday with the disclosure of old letters he wrote to a racist Southern senator thanking him for helping him to fight forced school busing.
“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977, to Sen. James Eastland, the Washington Post reported.
Eastland was a plantation owner who believed blacks were an inferior race, and forcefully fought desegregation throughout his career as a Democratic lawmaker from Mississippi.
Biden took heat from many of his fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls earlier this week when it was disclosed that he cited his work with Eastland and another racist Southern Democrat as evidence that he can get things done by working with people even if he disagrees with them.
The letter was written when he was a freshman senator, at a time when federal courts across the US were ordering busing to integrate public schools, a policy Biden and many others from both sides of the aisle opposed at the time.
Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.”
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But according to the DC paper’s account, the letters show a relationship in which they were both on board the fight against school integration through busing.
Biden’s campaign late Thursday said that “the insinuation that Joe Biden shared the same views as Eastland on segregation is a lie.”
“Plain and simple. Joe Biden has dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights,” the statement said.
But the letters show that Biden’s friendship with Eastland began in 1972, before he had taken office, and that he wrote to him listing his top six committee assignment requests, with Foreign Relations and Judiciary at the top.
Later, Biden wrote to thank Eastland, saying he was “flattered and grateful” for his help.
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