ABC moderator Linsey Davis referenced a 1975 statement from Biden, in which he said he'd "be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago," before asking him about his thoughts on the issue of reparations.
"What responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?” Davis asked Biden.
"Look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that," Biden, the current Democratic frontrunner, said.
Biden went on to list a number of proposals for improving the U.S. education system, including investing more in Title I schools, increasing teacher salaries and adding new support systems for students.
Here is my transcript of Joe Biden's record player moment.— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) September 13, 2019
Asked about his past comments denying responsibility, as a white man, for America's sins, he gives an answer insinuating that black parents don't know how to raise kids. pic.twitter.com/Z39NtsiVkd
He added that some parents might not know exactly how to help educate their children outside of school — then offered a suggestion.
"Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player — on at night, make sure that kids hear words," Biden said. "A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background — will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time we get there."
Here's that moment Joe Biden was talking about playing record players for kids pic.twitter.com/7t5CIoEKpq— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 13, 2019
The comments left some baffled, with viewers taking to social media with both jokes and serious criticism.
So Joe Biden’s solution to educational inequity is to make sure either the TV or record player are on?— Brian Kibler (@bmkibler) September 13, 2019
"Alexa, turn up the record player!" -Joe Biden, probably #DemDebate— Fitz Maro (@fitzmaro) September 13, 2019
Biden has been called out for his gaffes multiple times during the 2020 campaign. Earlier this month, the former vice president came under fire for sharing inaccurate details in a war story. Last month, he was criticized for saying that "poor kids are just as bright as white kids."
Friday's debate was the third of the 2020 Democratic primary so far. The next debate will be held in Ohio on Oct. 15, with the possibility of extending into Oct. 16, depending on the number of candidates who qualify.