06-16-2024  7:38 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Published: 10 June 2024

In what quickly turned into a polarizing week for Black Americans, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) delivered a scathing denunciation of Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) on the House floor, while rapper and entrepreneur 50 Cent visited Capitol Hill presumably to advocate for Black entrepreneurs. Both events highlighted the stark divisions within the Black community regarding political allegiances and historical perspectives.

Donalds, who earlier co-hosted a Donald Trump campaign event for Black voters in Philadelphia, incredulously asserted, “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.”

Jeffries responded forcefully, condemning Donalds’ remarks as inaccurate and deeply offensive. “Mr. Speaker, it has come to my attention that a so-called leader has made the factually inaccurate statement that Black folks were better off during Jim Crow,” he stated. “That’s an outlandish, outrageous, and out-of-pocket observation.”

Highlighting the brutal realities of the Jim Crow era, Jeffries continued, “We would not be better off when a young boy named Emmett Till could be brutally murdered without consequence because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when Black women could be sexually assaulted without consequence because of Jim Crow. We would not be 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 would not be better off when people could be denied the right to vote without consequence because of Jim Crow. How dare you make such an ignorant observation?”

The Congressional Black Caucus echoed Jeffries’ condemnation in a statement: “This is a pattern of embracing racist ideologies that we see time and again within the MAGA Republican Party. 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. He should immediately offer an apology to Black Americans for misrepresenting one of the darkest chapters in our history for his own political gain.”

On the same day, 50 Cent, meeting with lawmakers in a visit hyped as an attempt to advocate for Black entrepreneurs and Black representation in the liquor industry, commented on the political climate. Speaking to CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion, 50 Cent gave a nod to an alarming trend among Black men identifying with the twice-impeached Trump, who is a convicted felon and still under indictment. When asked about his stance in the upcoming presidential election, the rapper, who supported Trump in 2020, stated he hadn’t decided yet but highlighted Trump’s appeal among Black male voters. “I see them identifying with Trump,” he explained, “because they got RICO charges.”

Trump has more than 50 felony charges pending in three jurisdictions after a Manhattan jury convicted him of 34 felonies related to hush money payments, he made to an adult film actress to cover up their extramarital affair. A New York jury also twice found him guilty of sexually assaulting a woman, while a judge declared the former president committed massive business fraud and ordered Trump to pay nearly $500 million in fines and restitution.

But the week underscored a significant divide within the Black community, juxtaposing Jeffries’ and the Congressional Black Caucus’s fierce defense of historical accuracy and social justice against Donalds’ and 50 Cent’s perspectives.

Many noted that Jim Crow laws, enforced through local and federal legislation, relegated Black Americans to second-class citizenship, enforcing racial segregation and instilling systemic violence and terror. That era included the wrongful execution of 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr., convicted by an all-white jury in 1944 after just 10 minutes of deliberation. Stinney’s case epitomized the racial injustice of Jim Crow.

Jeffries further criticized the romanticization of Black family history during that oppressive period, which included the Scottsboro Boys wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1931, 14-year-old Emmett Till lynched in 1955 after being falsely accused of whistling at a white girl, and four Black girls murdered in a church bombing in Alabama in 1963? Not gone unnoticed, too, is that Donalds is married to a white woman, something that would have led to his lynching during Jim Crow.

“You better check yourself before you wreck yourself,” Jeffries assailed. “I yield back.”

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