Biden’s Morehouse Address Raises Questions Amid Declining Popularity


This past Sunday, the president of the United States addressed the graduating class of Morehouse College and injected a sense of bitterness toward the society they now enter as working adults ready to contribute throughout their lives.

With nearly six months remaining before the 2024 election, it’s unfortunately likely that more of this kind of grievance-fueling rhetoric will surface in the coming months.

Morehouse, a historically Black, all-male college in Atlanta, lies at the intersection of two critical demographics for the upcoming election: Black men and the battleground state of Georgia.

Joe Biden, not only the head of state and government—roles often separated in other countries—is also a candidate for reelection, and his support among Black men is waning. According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, he garners 57% of their support to former President Donald Trump’s 30%, a drop from his 2020 numbers of 87%-12%.

As Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears remarked to WMAL host Vince Coglianese on Monday, “When his poll numbers go low, he goes low.”

This explains why Biden told Morehouse’s graduates that Black men are being killed in the streets by “white supremacy” and that America does not love them.

“It’s natural to wonder if democracy you hear about actually works for you,” the president said to the young minds in attendance, using his characteristic campaign-trail tones. “What is democracy if Black men are being killed in the street? What is democracy if a trail of broken promises still leaves Black communities behind? What is democracy if you have to be 10 times better than anyone else to get a fair shot?”

“And most of all,” Biden continued, “what does it mean, as we’ve heard before, to be a Black man who loves his country even if it doesn’t love him back in equal measure?”

Biden claimed that Republicans aim “to erase history. They don’t see you in the future of America.” In contrast, Biden portrayed himself as a defender against this supposed aggression: “If Black men are being killed on the streets, we bear witness. For me, that means to call out the poison of white supremacy, to root out systemic racism.”

A quick Google search combining “Biden,” “Morehouse,” and “fact check” shows no immediate fact-checks from usual sources like the Washington Post or the New York Times, although Reuters did run a piece titled, “Biden reaches out to Morehouse grads on Gaza, warns of risk to democracy.”

Biden wasn’t wrong that Black men are disproportionately victims of homicide. According to FBI figures, in 2019, Black Americans comprised 53.7% of murder victims for whom the race was known, despite making up about 12% of the population. In contrast, 42% of murder victims were white. Additionally, men across all races constitute 88% of murder victims.

However, it is difficult to attribute these numbers to “white supremacy” or “systemic racism.” FBI data shows that 89% of Black murder victims were killed by other Black individuals. Similarly, 79% of white murder victims were killed by other white people.

This narrative does not align with Biden’s message that America does not love these young men and actually kills them, with Biden positioning himself as their protector. There was an opportunity for the president to address more complex issues about the causes behind these statistics but he chose not to.

Regarding Biden’s claim that these men have to work 10 times as hard to get a fair shot, Morehouse’s own statistics show that the average starting salary for a graduate is $76,543. In comparison, reports that the average starting salary for college graduates is $55,260.

Biden, somewhat new to social-justice advocacy, may not realize that he can connect with an audience without painting them as victims and himself as the savior.

Historically, Biden has made numerous controversial statements. For instance, he opposed busing in the 1970s not due to its ineffectiveness but because “my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle.” He also once remarked that in Delaware, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

When Biden ran against former President Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, he once quipped that Obama was “the first sort of mainstream African American … who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

It’s possible Biden never studied figures like Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke, economist Thomas Sowell, or author Shelby Steele—all not just articulate, bright, and “clean,” but refined and erudite scholars. Or the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. and W.E.B. Du Bois, who also embodied these qualities.

Biden could have highlighted these exemplary figures or shared positive, uplifting sentiments with the Morehouse graduates. Instead, he chose to underscore the difficulties they might face in a very pessimistic manner, possibly overshadowing their optimism as they embark on their life journeys.

It seems Biden, who graduated college in 1965 when Lyndon B. Johnson was president, might have lost touch with contemporary realities.

Mike Gonzalez serves as a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is listed for identification purposes only; no endorsement of a candidate by the organization is implied.

Mike Gonzalez
Mike Gonzalez
Contributor. Mike Gonzalez serves as a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. In the past, he has reported from Europe, Asia and Latin America.

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