President Biden on Tuesday said he’s abolishing former President Donald Trump’s “offensive” 1776 Commission on “patriotic education” and loosening rules on racial sensitivity training imposed by Trump.
The 1776 Commission released a “final report” this month after it was formed ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Trump’s ban on critical race theory, also established last year, forbade federal application of the ideology to train federal workers on “white privilege.”
“I’m rescinding the previous administration’s harmful ban on diversity and sensitivity training and abolish[ing] the offensive, counterfactual 1776 Commission. Unity and healing must begin with understanding and truth. Not ignorance and lies,” Biden said at the White House.
Biden signed four executive orders at the event, each apparently unrelated to the commission or racial trainings, which Trump created by executive order.
Documents signed Tuesday by Biden ordered the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address racism in federal housing policies, the Justice Department to end use of private prisons, the feds to strengthen relationships with American Indian tribes and the government to oppose anti-Asian American discrimination.
“Our soul will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to persist. We can’t eliminate — it’s not gonna be overnight, we can eliminate everything. But it’s corrosive, it is destructive and it’s costly,” Biden said.
Biden as a candidate was often on the receiving end of criticism on racial issues.
Left-wing and conservative critics highlighted the Biden-authored 1986 and 1994 crime laws’ contribution to the mass incarceration of minorities, and Vice President Kamala Harris, as a 2020 presidential candidate, famously criticized Biden’s historical opposition to a federal role in interracial school busing.
“That little girl was me,” Harris told Biden on a debate stage, recalling her alleged experience being part of the first classes to integrate.
Trump signed the First Step Act in 2018 including provisions targeted to help minority individuals incarcerated under Biden’s crime bills.
The reform law allowed 2,600 primarily black inmates convicted of crack cocaine crimes to petition for reduced sentences. Biden’s 1986 legislation created significant sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine, contributing to racial disparities in prison populations.