Twitter erupts at Biden's use of 'Negro' in Veterans Day speech

President Joe Biden raised eyebrows and set the internet abuzz Thursday when he used a long-outdated term for black people during a speech honoring veterans.

Biden referred to famed baseball player Satchel Paige as "the great Negro of the time" while wishing retired diplomat Donald Blinken a happy birthday during his Veterans Day speech. But he was referencing the fact that Paige spent most of his career in what was known as the Negro Leagues. The term was acceptable in common usage during the 1930s and 1940s, when the legendary pitcher played. Paige also played in Major League Baseball after it was racially integrated.

"I've adopted the attitude of the great Negro, at the time, pitcher in the Negro Leagues, went on to become a great pitcher in the pros and Major League Baseball after Jackie Robinson," Biden said, recounting a win Paige pitched at age 47. Asked about his age, Paige is said to have replied, "I look at it this way: How old would you be if you knew how old you were?"


Biden said, "I'm 50 years old, and the ambassador's 47." The moral of the story was that age was not important to accomplishment.

Blinken, the father of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, turned 96 on Thursday. Biden, the oldest man to serve as president, will turn 79 later this month.

The Negro Leagues existed when black players were shut out of Major League Baseball due to racial segregation.

Conservative operatives circulated the clip of Biden's verbal misstep as people on Twitter debated his use of the word "Negro."

"Joe Biden referring to Satchel Paige as ‘the great Negro at the time' sounds just as terrible as you'd think it would," tweeted For America, a conservative site whose Twitter account has nearly 150,000 followers.


The elder Blinken served as ambassador to Hungary under former President Bill Clinton until 1997.

Paige retired after playing his last professional baseball game in 1966 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame five years later. He died in 1982.

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