Fact Check: No, Joe Biden didn't "get started" at a HBCU

Why does Joe Biden keep embellishing his academic record? It’s such an easy thing for reporters to check. In this case, Biden was pandering to a South Carolina audience, desperately courting black voters, and lied about attending one of America’s historically black colleges.


Joe Biden was in a battle in a large Democrat field for the party’s presidential nominee. In order to ingratiate himself during a town hall held on October 26, 2019, he said, “I got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State.” The town hall was held at Wilson High School in Florence, a school with its own historic past. It was founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Bureau for black children seeking an education.

“I got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State — now, I don’t want to hear anything negative about Delaware State,” Mr. Biden told the audience, drawing laughter, as shown on video. “They’re my folks.”

Late last week Carlos Holmes, director of news service for Delaware State, said no, Joe Biden was never a student at the school. Holmes corrected the record by saying that Biden was a “commencement keynote speaker in 2003 and [2016], and during the former, he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree.” Being a commencement speaker is not at all like being a student on campus so that is a really big mistake to make. Plus, 2003 and 2016 were way past the time that Biden would have been a student. The man is 77 years old. The university is about 50 miles south of the University of Delaware, where Biden graduated in 1965. Perhaps he will try to brush it off as a brain fart – oh yeah, I went to that other school.


My question is why did this fact check take so long? While some have questioned Biden’s claim in past months, did no one bother to just check with the university? Could it be because the university’s president has a long history with Biden as a staffer and speechwriter? Just this month he was brought on the Biden – Harris campaign as a member of Biden’s transition team. Hmmm.

This month, Biden and his VP pick Kamala Harris appointed Delaware State University President Dr. Tony Allen to serve on the Advisory Council of the Biden Transition Team.

Allen, a former speechwriter in Biden’s Senate office, would help ‘to ensure the continuity of the government should the former Vice President win the November presidential election.’

In a statement shared to Delaware State University’s website, Dr. Allen said he began working for Biden 23 years ago.

‘We met in 1997 when he took a chance on a young, single father completing his graduate studies and asked me to come work in his Senate office, as a speechwriter and a liaison to the City of Wilmington.

‘What I didn’t know then was that he would become one of the primary catalysts to my life in public service.’

Dr. Allen added that working with on the Advisory Council was a privilege.

‘I could not be more honored and humbled by his invitation to offer counsel and perspective in an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history.’


We could be generous and think that Joe just got confused or we could think that Biden thought it would be ok to use his friendship with Dr. Allen to his advantage on the campaign trail. He likely thought Allen would not speak up and he was right, Allen did not. It was someone else who corrected the record. I lean on the side that this was a deliberate lie made to pander to black voters. Biden was desperate to get their support and was lagging in the polls in South Carolina. Biden knew he had to get black voters to win the South Carolina primary. The reason it is easy to think Biden deliberately lied is that this is Biden’s history. He has been caught lying about his academic record in the past. Lefty publication Mother Jones ran a story about Biden’s past lies and included this from a NYT article:

In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: “I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.”

As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: “I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors – I said ‘three’ and should have said ‘two.’” Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.

”With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,” the statement went on. “My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.”

In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: ”My recollection is – and I’d have to confirm this – but I don’t recall paying any money to go to law school.” Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse ”on half scholarship based on financial need.”

In his statement today, Mr. Biden did not directly dispute this, but said he received a scholarship from the Syracuse University College of Law “based in part on academics” as well as a grant from the Higher Education Scholarship Fund of the state of Delaware. He said the law school “arranged for my first year’s room and board by placing me as an assitant resident adviser in the undergraduate school.”

As for the moot court competition, Mr. Biden said he had won such a competition, with a partner, in Kingston, Ontario, on Dec. 12, 1967.


Biden lies about which university he attended, his class ranking, his number of degrees, and obtaining a financial scholarship. He must assume no one will question him. He’s right this campaign cycle. Biden’s campaign has been very successful at keeping the press away from Joe and he rarely answers questions, even during a “press conference”. He is a longtime swamp creature that assumes he can just coast to victory without breaking a sweat and the press is happy to accommodate him.

An ironic part of this story is that Biden was trying to say he is a supporter of HBCUs. Why then didn’t the Obama – Biden administration fix the process in which they are funded? Trump fixed it. Besides delivering on record funding for HBCUs, he made it so that they no longer have to apply year after year for the same funding. He streamlined the process for them.

What’s next, Joe? Plagiarizing speeches again?

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John Sexton 3:20 PM on September 26, 2023