Members of the Congressional Black Caucus staged a silent protest to President Trump’s infamous ‘s***hole’ comments by sporting African patterns to his first State of the Union speech.
Democrats were already wearing black as a nod to the ‘#MeToo’ movement. But when Black Caucus members took to their seats in the House chamber before Trump’s speech, most if not all of them were sporting brightly colored kente cloth and varied African patterns.
Democratic Rep. James C. Clyburn of South Carolina, a leading CBC members and member of leadership, sported a kente cloth tie. Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas opted for a wide piece of fabric that went over her shoulder.
Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia wore both a tie and a scarf with a brightly-colored orange pattern.
FASHION PUSHBACK: Members of the Congressional Black Caucus sported accessories with kente cloth and other African-based patterns, following Trump’s controversial ‘s***hole’ comments
The patterns, which originally hail from Ghana, are associated with black pride and civil rights movements.
The lawmakers mostly opted for seats in the bank of seats in the center of the left side of the chamber, grouping themselves closely together and insuring their silent protest would be visible on television. Most congregated in five adjacent rows.
When Trump made a grand entrance into the chamber, some CBC members stood, along with every Republican and many Democrats.
But Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and others opted to sit during the extended applause for Trump.
Likewise, they didn’t stand when Trump hailed African American unemployment being at a ‘record low.’ The lawmakers have countered that the drop began under President Obama.
The lawmakers, along with other Democrats, bristled after the Washington Post reported that Trump had railed against immigration from ‘s***hole countries’ in Africa and Haiti.
Trump denied making the comment. His homeland security chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, testified that she couldn’t remember him making the comment, saying only that he’d used ‘tough language.’
Trump wants to end ‘diversity visas’ which award immigration status via lottery that he has compared to a televised lottery with ping pong balls.
He has urged more immigration from Norway, a country Nielsen said he praised for its ‘hardworking’ population. Democrats blasted the comment as racist.
Hours before the State of the Union address, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gathered together her fellow Democratic women – and some men too – for a photo-op, as they showed off their black outfits for tonight.
The lawmakers were taking a page from the women of Hollywood, who sported black gowns to the Golden Globes to pay homage to the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements.
The Democrats followed the lead of Oprah Winfrey too, who had brought up the rape and subsequent activism of the late Recy Taylor.
For the State of the Union, the lawmakers sported pink ‘RECY’ pins too.
The African-American Taylor, who died last month at the age of 97, was gang-raped in Alabama as a young wife and mother by six white men.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic women decided to wear black to President Trump’s first State of the Union in honor of the ‘Me Too’ movement
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (right) reportedly thought the wardrobe revolt sent enough of a message to President Trump, urging her Democratic colleagues not to walk out of tonight’s speech
‘Let the attention be on his slobbering self,’ Nancy Pelosi reportedly told her colleagues, urging them not to cause a commotion in the chamber during President Trump’s first State of the Union
Rep. Lisa Blunt, a Democrat from Delaware, straightens her ‘RECY’ pin in advance of Tuesday night’s State of the Union. The pins pay homage to the late Recy Taylor, a rape victim turned activist that talk show queen Oprah Winfrey paid homage to in her Golden Globes speech
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, adjusts her ‘Time Up’ pin as she joins other House members for a photo-op showing many women lawmakers, and some men too, dressed in black for Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech
Democratic lawmakers, and some men too, show off their ensembles for tonight’s State of the Union speech as they show their support for the ‘Me Too’ movement. President Trump was previously accused of sexual assault
Democratic lawmakers, dressed in all black to show support for the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements throw up a fist bump during a photo-op Tuesday before President Trump’s State of the Union address
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stands up among her peers as Democratic women show off their black attire, which they’ll be wearing at tonight’s State of the Union address
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (left), an Illinois Democrat who is among the lawmakers boycotting tonight’s speech, sat for the photo with the other women in black. She was seated beside Rep. Susan Davis (right), a Democrat from California
Democratic lawmakers are wearing ‘RECY’ pins to the State of the Union tonight, after Recy Taylor, who was gang-raped in Alabama in 1944 by six white men who were never charged.
Recy Taylor, photographed in 2010 at the age of 91, died last month at the age of 97. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Taylor during the Golden Globes and Democratic lawmakers will also honor her tonight
She took her case to the NAACP, where she was helped out by Rosa Parks, then just a young investigator.
‘But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted,’ Winfrey said in her Golden Globes speech. ‘I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on,’ the media mogul added.
While an all-white male jury refused to indict her attackers, Taylor’s 1944 rape case helped inspire the civil rights movement.
Beyond the pins and black clothes Pelosi, according to Politico, thought the wardrobe revolt was enough of a message, as she also instructed her members not to walk out of the speech or make a commotion.
‘Let the attention be on his slobbering self,’ Pelosi said of President Trump, who delivers his first official State of the Union tonight. ‘If you walk out, don’t come in.’
A handful of Democratic members opted to do the latter with Rep. Frederica Wilson kicking off State of the Union eve yesterday by explaining why she wouldn’t attend the affair.
‘I’m not going because to do would be to honor the president, and I don’t think he deserves to be honored at this time,’ the Florida Democrat said on CNN. ‘After being so hateful toward black people and then black countries, Haiti and the whole continent of Africa, it hurts, it hurts, and he has brought the White House to the lowest, and I don’t think he needs to be honored with my presence,’ she went on.
Wilson is not alone in making tomorrow night’s State of the Union speech, Trump’s first, into a political point.
Earlier this months, on the heels of reports that said Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and the whole of Africa as ‘s***hole’ countries, during a closed-door immigration meeting, Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights pioneer, announced that he would not go.
‘In good conscience, I can not and will not sit there and listen at him as he gives the State of the Union Address,’ Lewis said then.
THE DEMOCRATS BOYCOTTING TRUMP’S 2018 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Rep. Danny Davis – 7th district, Illinois
Rep. Earl Blumenauer – 3rd district, Oregon
Rep. Frederica Wilson – 24th district, Florida
Rep. Rep. Jan Schakowsky – 9th district, Illinois
Rep. John Lewis – 5th district, Georgia
Rep. Maxine Waters – 43rd district, California
Rep. Steve Cohen – 9th district, Tennessee
Rep. Gregory Meeks – 5th district, New York
Rep. Pramila Jayapal – 7th district, Washington
Rep. Bobby Rush – 1st district, Illinois
Rep. Barbara Lee – 13th district, California
Rep. Juan Vargas – 51st district, California
Rep. Albio Sires – 8th district, New Jersey
That’s when Wilson originally announced she would sit out, as did Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters, of California, and Pramila Jayapal, of Washington state.
On Friday, they were joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, who said in a statement she was boycotting the address ‘because I refuse to normalize President Donald Trump and his loathsome language and actions.’
‘With every day that passes, a new tweet, breaking news story, or leaked quote sheds new light on President Trump’s twisted and prejudiced mind,’ she added.
The congresswoman took particular offense to his ‘s***hole countries’ comment, his reaction to the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer, in which he said there were good people on ‘both sides’ of a clash between neo-Nazis, KKK members and white supremacists and counter-protesters, and for the roll-out of his ‘Muslim ban’ last year, which Schakowsky pointed out happened on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On Sunday, Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York, told MSNBC he would not be there. ‘
‘I cannot give this man, who does not respect me, the respect to be in that audience,’ Meeks said. ‘I will not be there.’
Meeks was joined by two other black House members, both from Illinois, on Monday as Reps Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, announced they would not attend.
Rush called Trump’s first year in office ‘the most chaotic, divisive, and incompetent’ and said he would not ‘watch as Trump pretends that he’s off to a successful start.’
‘He’s not,’ Rush said in a statement put out by his office.
Late Monday, Rep. Juan Vargas, a Democrat from California, indicated that he would not attend.
‘President Trump continues to disrespect women, insult people of color, and attack our immigrant communities. I will not be attending the State of the Union—I stand in solidarity with all the people he has and continues to disrespect,’ the congressman tweeted.
While a majority of Democratic members boycotting were minorities, the first lawmaker to announce he would be playing hooky was a white guy, Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon.
Blumenauer later said he would be sending in his stead, a ‘dreamer’ to the speech, as Congress continues to debate what happens next with DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era order that allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal status.
Trump has since announced he was scrapping the program and tossed the problem to Congress.
Other Democrats, too, are using their guests as mini-protests.
Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen, a Nevada Democrat, is bringing well-known ‘Dreamer’ Astrid Silva as his guest.
Rep. Joe Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat whose great-uncle was the late President John F. Kennedy, is bringing a transgender soldier – Staff Sgt. Patricia King – to the State of the Union, to protest the president’s proposed transgender troops ban.
The congressman’s guest was first reported in the Boston Globe.
Kennedy will also be giving the Democrats’ official rebuttal after Trump leaves the dais.
THE PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY’S STATE OF THE UNION GUESTS
Corey Adams – Works as a skilled welder at Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, and became a first-time homeowner in 2007. The White House said Adams and his wife benefited from the Trump tax cuts, in which their savings will go toward their two daughters’ education savings.
Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger – Siblings who started Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, twenty years ago. On Monday the White House attributed the ‘Trump bump’ with the Staubs’ decision to hire 14 new employees in the past year and start the work to acquire a new building. They also used the Trump tax cut funds to give their employees Christmas bonuses, the White House said.
Ashlee Leppert – An aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Coast Guard, Leppert was instrumental during last year’s hurricane season. Her most dramatic rescue involved lifting a woman to safety in a helicopter basket. Leppert thought the woman was clutching bags of clothes in her arms, when in reality, the victim was trying to transport four children to safety.
Corporal Matthew Bradford – Bradford was the first blind, double amputee to reenlist in the Marine Corps after stepping on an IED while deployed in Iraq in 2007. Bradford joined the Marines straight out of high school and first traveled to Iraq in 2006.
Jon Bridgers – Bridgers is the founder of the Cajun Navy, a non-profit, volunteer rescue and recovery organization that he created in 2016 to respond to flooding in Southern Louisiana. In 2017, the Cajun Navy became an instrumental part in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey flooded swaths of nearby Texas. The group continues to collect donations for storm victims.
Preston Sharp – 12-year-old Sharp has been placing American flags and flowers on veterans’ graves since 2015, after visiting his grandfather’s gravesite and noticing that other veterans were not being properly honored. Sharp has organized the placement of over 40,000 American flags and red carnations to be put on soldiers’ graves as part of his Flag and Flower challenge. He’s now helped honor veterans in all 50 states.
Evelyn Rodriguez – is the mother of Kayla Cuevas, who was brutally murdered in September 2016 by an MS-13 gang member.
Freddy Cuevas – is the father of Kayla Cuevas, who was murdered by an MS-13 gang member on Long Island.
Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens – Alvarado and Mickens’ daughter Nisa Mickens was murdered by an MS-13 gang member, alongside her friend Kayla Cuevas on September 13. The two girls’ deaths were among 17 Long Island slayings at the hand of the vicious gang.
Officer Ryan Holets – Holets is a police officer in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has been shot twice in the line of duty. He became national news, however, when he and his wife adopted a newborn baby, whose mother was addicted to opioids.
Agent Celestino ‘CJ’ Martinez – Martinez works as a supervisory special agent for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit. As part of his job, he’s worked to dismantle the MS-13 gang, arresting more than 100 members. Martinez is also a veteran, having served in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard for more than 22 years.
David Dahlberg – Dahlberg works as a fire prevention technician in southern California and during his time working at the Pine Canyon Fire Station in the Santa Lucia Ranger District he helped save 62 children and staff members from a wildfire that had encircled their camp in 2017.
Staff Sergeant Justin Peck – Peck has served in the United States Army for eight years. While clearing IEDS in Syria, his colleague Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy was struck. Peck’s swift actions, including applying a tourniquet, placing an endotracheal tube, and performing artificial respirations and CPR were responsible for saving Stacy’s life.