Five Things Black People Should Know About Dr. Jill Biden
Dr. Jill Biden was feeling nostalgic on the first night of the Democratic National Convention.
Biden, 67, posted a stunning photo of her younger self on Twitter Monday evening and mused that “it's hard not to think about where I come from. I’ll always be that girl from Philly.”
This morning she posted another image of herself on Instagram, this time as an English teacher in what appears to be from a yearbook with the caption. “Teaching is not what I do. It’s who I am.”
Tonight marks the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention where viewers can tune in to hear Dr. Biden deliver her DNC speech from her former classroom, Room 232, at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware.
It’s an opportunity for us all to learn even more about her husband, Joe Biden, the Democratic presumptive nominee for president, and who better to tell that story than the woman who has been married to him for the last 43 years.
At times, Dr. Biden has been his teacher, his sounding board, an empathetic ear and even his bodyguard.
The former Second Lady is now on the biggest stage of her life and will be making the case for why Americans should vote for her husband. And even though she spent eight years standing side-by-side with our forever first lady Michelle Obama, it has been a while since Black people got familiar with Jill Biden.
Here are five reminders about Dr. Jill you should know.
She plans on keeping her day job
Dr. Biden told CBS Sunday Morning that she would continue to teach if she becomes the First Lady. “If we get to the White House, I’m going to continue to teach. It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up their profession,” she said.
This news will not be surprising to former First Lady Michelle Obama, or anyone who has worked closely with Dr. Biden during the Obama Administration. As Obama and Biden worked together on their military families initiative, known as Joining Forces, Obama observed one consistent thing about Jilly from Philly.
“Jill is always grading papers,” Obama shared in her 2016 White House exit interview, according to The Washington Post. “Which is funny because I’d forget, ‘Oh yeah, you have a day job!’ And then she pulls out her papers and she’s so diligent and I’m like, ‘Look at you! You have a job! Tell me! Tell me what it’s like!’ ”
Biden is briefly on hiatus from her role as an English composition professor at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) to help her husband campaign, but regardless of what happens in November, she’ll be back.
She wasn’t trying to get wifed up
According to Vogue, Joe Biden proposed to his wife five times during their courtship before she finally said, yes. She explained that she kept telling him “Not yet. Not yet. Not yet” because she wanted to make sure she was ready to be a mom to his two sons, Beau and Hunter Biden, from his previous marriage. The boys had lost their biological mother Neilia and sister Naomi in a car accident in 1972, just a few years prior.
“I really felt that this marriage had to work,” Jill explained. “Because they had lost their mom, and I couldn’t have them lose another mother. So I had to be 100-percent sure.”
In fact, Joe Biden told Vogue that he finally had to just give her an ultimatum saying, "’Look, this is the last time I’m asking you. I don’t care when we get married. But I want a commitment.' And she said okay.”
She wrote about Joe
Dr. Biden authored a children’s book called Joey: The Story of Joe Biden, about some of the adversity her husband faced during his childhood.
“He had to overcome a lot of hardship; he was bullied as a child, and so he knows what it feels for other kids to be bullied," she told CBS. “He stood up to the bullies, and he stood up to the bullies who bullied other kids, so I think that he's resilient. I want people to know that he's empathetic because of what he's been through in life, and that he's a leader, of course."
In tonight’s speech, the former second lady will explain that her husband is a man of great resilience.
“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it...He does it for you.”
She’s the eldest of five sisters
Dr. Biden was born in Hammonton, New Jersey, but later moved to Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Her father, Donald, was employed at a savings and loan bank. Her mother, Bonny, was a homemaker. After high school, she enrolled in a junior college in Pennsylvania to study fashion merchandising, according to Vogue. But it was a career in education that ultimately captured her heart.
And she enjoys both teaching and learning. During the campaign, she has met with lawmakers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and as a sign of respect, employed the use of her newly acquired Spanish language skills which she is learning through the Babbel language app, according to The Washington Post.
She helped pick Sen. Kamala Harris
Just like many potential first ladies before her, Dr. Biden wields an incredible amount of influence on her husband. So, when it came to choosing a running mate, it is said that she was right there with Joe Biden interviewing Sen. Kamala Harris as well as the other candidates and she had a hand in who actually got the job.
Once chosen, she expressed her excitement for all that is to come for this ticket saying during a virtual event the week after the announcement, "You know this has been such an exciting week for us. Biden-Harris. Joy is such a different thing during this time of a pandemic, isn't it?"