September 4, 2020 | 10:46am
Joe Biden’s town hall event in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Thursday was marred by a number of controversial and eyebrow-raising incidents, including the Democratic candidate claiming that the light bulb was not invented by Thomas Edison, and a questioner refusing to adhere to a pre-written script she was “told to go off.”
Biden said during the event that a black man invented the light bulb — and “not a white guy named Edison.”
Biden, 77, made the claim while speaking Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church, where he met residents following a 90-minute private session with Jacob Blake’s family, a meeting that Blake joined by phone, according to attorney Ben Crump.
“I cannot guarantee everything gets solved in four years, but I guarantee you one thing: It will be a whole heck of a lot better” if he’s elected in November, Biden promised. “We will move a lot further down the road.”Joe Biden speaks during a town hall event at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
Biden then insisted that “people fear” anything that’s different before launching into a critique of the American education system.
“We gotta, for example, why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes?” he told the crowd through a mask. “A black man invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Edison. OK? There’s so much. Did anybody know?”Lewis Howard Latimer Alamy Stock Photo
American inventor Thomas Edison is credited with patenting the first commercially successful incandescent light bulb in 1879, using a paper filament that burned out quickly. Three years later, Lewis Howard Latimer, a black inventor who worked as one of Edison’s researchers, patented a light bulb using a carbon filament, which was much more durable, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology profile.
Latimer also holds patents for the electric lamp in 1881, four years before he teamed up with Edison to begin “improving upon his boss’s invention,” Grist magazine reported in a 2015 profile of Latimer, who first worked as an assistant to inventor Alexander Graham Bell.
Some accused Biden of trying to “rewrite history.”
At another point, while talking about law enforcement, Biden said that while a “significant portion” of police officers are “decent people,” there’s “a lot of bad folks” in every organization, before abruptly cutting himself off to introduce his wife.
“And so we gotta give a chance to change things, and we can,” Biden said. “There is not a single solitary reason in the world why, why, as I said, we shouldn’t be in a position that everybody — and that’s my wife Jill, hey Jilly … I’m Jill’s husband, actually.”
While talking about potential tax plans if elected, Biden promised not to raise rates on anyone making less than $400,000, but stopped short of divulging specifics, saying “they’ll shoot me.”Thomas Edison Bettmann Archive
Biden was assailed by critics for that turn of phrase, which was slammed as inappropriate in the aftermath of Blake’s Aug. 23 shooting in Kenosha.
Participants at the event, meanwhile, appeared to have been screened prior to the town hall, where they were “told to go off” a prepared script, according to one woman’s remarks.
“My name is Portia Bennett. I’m just going to be honest, Mr. Biden, I was told to go off this paper but I can’t. You need the truth, and I’m part of the truth. I was born here, raised here,” the woman said. “I have to give you the truth of the people.”