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‘Jim Crow’: Congressional Black Caucus Rips Byron Donalds For Saying Black Families Were Stronger Under Racist Laws

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Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill on October 23, 2023, in Washington, D.C. | Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty

There is growing outrage within pockets of Capitol Hill – and likely Black America – after Republican Florida Congressman Byron Donalds made the “shameful” comment that Black families were stronger and better off in the Jim Crow Era than they are now.

The political swipe at President Joe Biden’s administration by a man who is unabashedly jockeying for position to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate was made Tuesday night at an event in Philadelphia meant to galvanize Black male voters around the Republican Party.

MORE: Byron Donalds Claims A Copy Of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ Was Sent To His Office ‘To Depict Me As A Sellout’

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Donalds used language loaded with racial and gender tropes by suggesting Black people can’t make electoral decisions on their own without being told how and for whom to cast ballots by their families. It was in that context that Donalds had more to say about Black families.

More from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

At another point, Donalds said he is starting to see the “reinvigoration of Black family,” which he described as younger people forming nuclear family units and “helping to breathe the revival of a Black middle class in America.” He went on to say that those family values had previously been eroded by Democratic policies that Black voters embraced after becoming loyal to the party due to the Civil Rights Movement.

“You see, during Jim Crow, the Black family was together. During Jim Crow, more Black people were not just conservative — Black people have always been conservative-minded — but more Black people voted conservatively,” he said. “And then H.E.W., Lyndon Johnson — you go down that road, and now we are where we are,” he added, referring to the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

 

Those comments suggesting the Black family was better positioned for success during a time when racial discrimination was written into the law were a bridge too far for the Congressional Black Caucus, which responded in kind on Wednesday with a scathing rebuttal thoroughly debunking Donalds’ claims.

“Black people were not better off during the Jim Crow Era — a fact that Rep. Byron Donalds knows all too well,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman and Nevada rep. Steven Horsford said in a statement made on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Horsford suggested Donalds — who was notably called a GOP “prop” by progressive Missouri Rep. Cori Bush — was simply a pawn on the larger Republican chessboard being strategically deployed to tell white supremacist lies and revise Black and American history ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

“This is a pattern of embracing racist ideologies that we see time and again within the MAGA Republican Party,” Horsford continued. “Rep. Donalds is playing his role as the mouthpiece who will say the quiet parts out loud that many will not say themselves. His comments were shameful and beneath the dignity of a member of the House of Representatives.”

Horsford added of Donalds: “He should immediately offer an apology to Black Americans for misrepresenting one of the darkest chapters in our history for his own political gain.”

House Minority Leader and fellow Congressional Black Caucus member, New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, offered a similar sentiment on Wednesday while addressing his colleagues on the House floor – and he brought receipts with him.

Referring to Donalds as “a so-called leader,” Jeffries ripped “the factually inaccurate statement that Black folks were better off during Jim Crow.”

Jeffries, known in part for occasionally employing poetic devices in his speeches, articulated an alliterative ascertainment by calling Donalds’ comments “an outlandish, outrageous and out of pocket observation.”

Jeffries ran down a laundry list of examples of how Black people and families were in far worse positions “because of Jim Crow.”

“We were not better off when a young boy named Emmett Till could be brutally murdered without consequence because of Jim Crow,” Jeffries accurately noted. “We were not better off when Black women could be sexually assaulted without consequence because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when people could be systematically lynched without consequence because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when children could be denied a high-quality education without consequence because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when people could be denied the right to vote without consequences because of Jim Crow.”

Having more than proven his point, Jeffries added about Donalds: “How dare you make such an ignorant observation.”

Watch Jeffries’ speech below.

Republicans’ recent outreach to Black voters has been largely based on employing racist stereotypes to win over their support, and Tuesday night in Philadelphia was no different as the event Donalds participated in was called “Congress, Cognac and Cigars.”

Other Republican-led efforts toward Black voters include using Black hip-hop artists – as Trump did at a rally in the Bronx last month before he was convicted of 34 felonies for illegally paying hush money to a porn star for political purposes – and suggesting Trump’s mugshot would endear him to the powerful voting bloc.

Donalds, for his part, hasn’t appeared to be all that convincing to Black voters as a surrogate for Trump.

Aside from being promptly called out for his lies about the Black family being better off during Jim Crow, a visit to a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at George Washington University resulted in him being called an “Uncle Tom” and a “race traitor.”

https://twitter.com/KanekoaTheGreat/status/1785790221050859766

Months before that, Donalds said unconvincingly, “More and more Black Americans say we gotta have Trump back.”

This is America.

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