Fact check: In 1977, Biden said without orderly integration, his kids would grow up in 'racial jungle'

Camille Caldera, USA TODAY
·4 min read

The claim: Joe Biden said that integrating schools will create 'a racial jungle' and that he did not want his children to grow up in a 'racial jungle'

At the final presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden called President Donald Trump "one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history."

But Biden himself has come under fire for past comments about race.

In May, a story on the website Team Trump USA claimed that in "1977: Biden Said Integrating Black Students Would Turn Schools into ‘A Jungle… A Racial Jungle." It also contained a photo that showed Biden alongside the purported quote, "I don't want my children to grow up in a jungle, a racial jungle."

The author of the article, Colton McClaine, told USA TODAY that "the photo on the article can be somewhat misleading but the content in the article isn’t misleading."

This month alone, a screenshot of that article has been shared almost 250,000 times on Facebook. The user behind that post has not responded to a request from USA TODAY for comment.

Fact check: Trump debate quote about 'fault' for US COVID-19 outbreak taken out of context

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the final presidential debate at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the final presidential debate at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Biden said without orderly integration, his children would 'grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle'

In the 1970s, Biden was a staunch opponent of mandatory busing as a method of school desegregation. His campaign maintains that he did, however, support voluntary busing, per the New York Times.

His remark about a "racial jungle" came from a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1977 on the subject of court-ordered busing.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, a reporter for the New York Times, first tweeted about the comments in July 2019. She credited the find to a law professor, and it was later picked up by outlets like Business Insider.

Just before the remark, Biden advocated for "orderly integration of society" rather than school integration via busing. "I am not just talking about education but all of society," he said.

He addressed the expert witnesses at the hearing, and then launched into the quote in question: "Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point."

"We have got to make some move on this," he added.

The exchange appears here in the transcript of the hearing.

Biden was not against desegregation — he just advocated for other methods, like housing integration, per the Times.

Earlier in the hearing, Biden said he thought mandatory busing had "repercussions" in terms of the "ultimate objective of seeing that we get integrated neighborhoods, of seeing that we eventually eliminate job discrimination, of seeing that we change housing patterns, of seeing alteration of the tax structure."

Based on the transcript, the headline of the article on Team Trump USA is true — he did say integration via mandatory busing would create a "racial jungle."

However, the claim that Biden said "I don't want my children to grow up in a jungle, a racial jungle" is false. There is no evidence Biden made that particular remark.

Fact check: Hillary Clinton, not Joe Biden, used the phrase 'super predators'

Our rating: Partly False

Based on our research, the post is PARTLY FALSE. It contains two claims, one true and one false. It's true that Biden said mandatory busing to integrate schools would lead to his children growing up in a "racial jungle." It's false that he said, "I don't want my children to grow up in a jungle, a racial jungle."

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Post partly false about Biden 1977 'racial jungle' remark