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Biden says he ‘literally’ convinced Strom Thurmond to vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act – but that vote occurred when Biden was 21

 August 29, 2023

President Joe Biden, on the 60th anniversary of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, made a controversial claim regarding his involvement in the late Sen. Strom Thurmond's vote for the Civil Rights Act.

This claim raised eyebrows due to the curious timeline of the events at issue.

The president claimed to have "literally" convinced Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat-turned-Republican senator, to vote for the Civil Rights Act when he was just 21 years old.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a civil rights legal group, and the president made the claim while speaking at an event celebrating its anniversary which was held at the White House, as reported by Fox News.

Biden's remarks at the White House

Biden, speaking at the ceremony, remarked:

Pause for just a moment. I thought things had changed. I was able to — literally, not figuratively — talk Strom Thurmond into voting for the Civil Rights Act before he died. And I thought, ‘well, maybe there’s real progress. But hate never dies, it just hides. It hides under the rocks.

Nonetheless, the sequence of events seems to contradict the president's statement. Biden was born on November 20, 1942, and the Senate passed the Civil Rights Act on June 19, 1964.

Inconsistency in the timeline

Biden, being such a young man at the time, had not yet been elected to the Senate.

He secured his Senate seat at the age of 29.

Thurmond, on the other hand, passed away in June 2003, nearly 40 years after the Civil Rights Act was enacted.

Thurmond's controversial record

It is also worth noting that Thurmond, who transitioned from the Democratic to the Republican Party, opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 well before Biden embarked on his political career.

Furthermore, Thurmond was known for executing the longest filibuster in history against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

A representative from the White House later informed Fox News that the president had actually played a key role in securing Thurmond’s support for the Voting Rights Act in 1980.

Despite this clarification, the president's remarks drew criticism as they were seen as another blunder in a series of inaccuracies made over time.

For instance, Biden has consistently stated in public that his son Beau passed away in Iraq, even though he in fact succumbed to brain cancer after completing his service in Iraq. Biden has said:

I say this as a father of a man who won the Bronze Star, the conspicuous service medal, and lost his life in Iraq.

This comment was made during a speech in Colorado to designate Camp Hale as a national monument. Subsequently, the president once again asserted that Iraq was “where my son died," further illustrating his often-fuzzy relationship with the truth.

A string of mistakes

In May of the same year, while conversing with U.S. servicemen at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, Biden again incorrectly stated that Beau died during the Iraq War. “My son was a major in the U.S. Army. We lost him in Iraq,” he reportedly stated.

As reported by the New York Post, the traveling press corps was positioned “far enough away that the remarks were inaudible.”

The White House press office did not release an official transcript, nearly allowing the mistake to go unnoticed.

In September 2022, during a White House event, the president also seemingly called out for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) to make her presence felt. “Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” Biden inquired, highlighting the growing concerns about his mental faculties.


  • Biden claimed that he persuaded Sen. Strom Thurmond to support the Civil Rights Act at time when he would have been 21 years of age, a statement that is inconsistent with historical events.
  • Thurmond opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and led a filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
  • A White House representative clarified that Biden was instrumental in obtaining Thurmond’s support for the Voting Rights Act in 1980.
  • Over the years, the president has made several glaring public misstatements, including repeatedly asserting that his son Beau passed away in Iraq.