Civil rights advocate Rev. Jesse Jackson took digs at Joe Biden over the weekend, saying the former vice president should have admitted an error in judgment when questioned about busing during the first Democratic presidential debate.
Jackson told Politico that Sen. Kamala Harris, who confronted Biden on his record on busing at the debate, “established Biden on the states’ rights side of history,” which “cannot stand the test of time.”
Harris on Thursday took Biden to task over his recent comment about segregationist senators, as well as his opposition to using federally mandated busing to integrate schools in the 1970s.
“You also worked with [those segregationist senators] to oppose busing,” Harris said, speaking directly to Biden. “And there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”
Biden responded: “I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed.”
Jackson told Politico that Biden’s opposition to federally mandated busing was part of a larger debate over the U.S. government’s role in resolving institutional racism.
“He’s for voluntary busing, I’m for court-ordered busing — well, everyone’s for voluntary busing,” Jackson said. “[T]he federal government had to order the abolition of slavery, the federal government had to order the right to vote, they had to order the desegregation of schools and jobs and contracts. So ‘voluntary’ assumes that those who are oppressive have some will to move based on moral values, and that does not happen.”
Jackson told the New York Times that Biden had the chance “to admit an error in judgment at that time. He chose not to.”
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