Fact Check: Joe Biden Did NOT Say He Attended College At HBCU Delaware State University

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Joe Biden Did NOT Say He Attended College At HBCU Delaware State University Misconstrued

Did Joe Biden say he attended college at HBCU Delaware State University? No, that's not true. A comment made by the former vice president during the campaign in 2019 that he "got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State University," a historically black college and university, has been misconstrued by media outlets claiming he said he attended the school when he did not. Biden did not say that he was a student at the school, just that he "got started" there. He announced his bid for the Senate on the DSU campus in 1972 and was speaking about the support he received from the school, a DSU spokesman clarified to Delaware Online.

The story appeared as an article published by the Washington Times on September 25, 2020, titled "Biden's claim about attending historically Black Delaware State refuted by university" (archived here) which opened:

Joseph R. Biden declared last year on the campaign trail that he began his academic career at Delaware State University, a historically Black college, a claim that the school refutes."

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Biden's claim about attending historically Black Delaware State refuted by university

Joseph R. Biden declared last year on the campaign trail that he began his academic career at Delaware State University, a historically Black college, a claim that the school refutes."

The Washington Times article used the subhead "Biden told South Carolina audience that he 'got started out of' DSU."

The story claims Biden "has been long accused of making up the DSU connection, but the university's denial appears to erase any doubt."

Biden made the comments on October 26, 2019, at a town hall at historic Wilson High School in Florence, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1866 as a Freedmen's Bureau school for Black children.

"I got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State -- now, I don't want to hear anything negative about Delaware State," Biden said on a video of his comments on YouTube. "They're my folks."


The Washington Times asked the school about Biden and published the response of the university's director of news service, Carlos Holmes: "Vice President Biden did not attend DSU."

But Holmes said that the pretext under which the newspaper was asking -- based on Biden's comments on the video -- was not clearly identified. Holmes spoke out after news reports were published claiming that Biden was not truthful about actually attending the university, with Holmes claiming that he was not aware of the comment made by Biden during the campaign, and that he was just stating that Biden did not attend the school. Holmes said his answer was misconstrued.

"I took it to be the question of a fact-checker or someone who needed clarity over whether he attended Delaware State University or the University of Delaware," Holmes said in an emailed statement to Delaware Online. "The reporter did not mention anything about his campaign statement last year, and at that point, I was totally unaware of it. Last weekend, I found out that the inquiry and my response was being used by some media to portray Biden in a dishonest light.

"Watched in full context, it is clear that Biden was discussing his long association with historically Black colleges and universities, not making a claim that he had attended Delaware State University," Holmes said.

Biden attended the University of Delaware, where the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration bears his name.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes washingtontimes.com as:

The website of The Washington Times, a conservative, daily national newspaper owned by the Unification Church that has published false and unsubstantiated claims, including about the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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