Biden’s crime-fighting efforts were once praised by African-American leaders — including by the first black president, Barack Obama, who cited the then-senator’s role in passing the landmark 1994 crime bill when he chose Biden as a running mate in 2008.

But that 1994 law is now anathema in progressive circles. And for many, Obama is no longer enough to validate Biden’s credentials.

“Joe Biden needs to atone. He needs to admit the error of his ways,” said Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and leader of the successful 2018 effort to restore voting rights to as many as 1.4 million people with felony convictions. “As a person previously convicted of a crime, there was a level of atonement I needed to do. I couldn’t just say it was in the past.