Republican Byron Donalds’ statements about Jim Crow are drawing fire from Democrats

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) has come under fire after comments he made at an event in Philadelphia on Tuesday about the Jim Crow era of racial segregation.

The comments, first reported by The Inquirer on Tuesday night, came during a “Congress, Cognac and Cigars” event attended by the Donalds and U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt (R., Texas). Both men are conservative Black Republicans, and the event was the first in a series aimed at helping the GOP reach black voters and promote former President Donald Trump’s campaign to retake the White House. Donalds was mentioned as one of the possible running mates as Trump searches for his vice president.

” READ MORE: Trump surrogates reached black voters in Philadelphia with cigars and cognac

President Joe Biden’s campaign and other Democrats attacked Donalds on Wednesday for seemingly praising the Jim Crow era, in which racial segregation and voting disenfranchisement reduced Black Americans to second-class status. For example, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) gave a speech on the House floor condemning Donalds for saying that “black people were better off under Jim Crow.”

Here is what Donalds said:

“One of the things that is actually happening in our culture that you are now starting to see in our politics is the revitalization of the black family with younger black men and black women, which is also helping to breathe the resurgence of the black middle class in America,” Donalds said. “You see, during Jim Crow, the Black family stayed together. Under Jim Crow, not only were more blacks conservative – blacks had always been conservative – but more blacks voted conservative. And then HEW, Lyndon Johnson – you went down that road and now we are where we are.

Donalds was referring to President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society agenda, which included civil rights legislation that ended Jim Crow and also expanded federal food stamp, welfare and housing programs. Many of these programs were implemented by the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, or HEW

He did not discuss Jim Crow-era policies that enabled disenfranchisement and segregation. Instead, he argued that the increase in single-parent households in the Black community resulted from the massive expansion of the social safety net immediately after Jim Crow in the mid-1960s.

This argument is controversial in itself, given the complexity of the debate over the decline in black marriage and single-parent households throughout the 20th century. For example, researchers have noticed that the rate of out-of-wedlock births has skyrocketed among all racial groups, not just black families. Others argue that the relatively higher percentage of single-parent households among black families is primarily due to a lack of economic opportunity and racial discrimination in the workforce.

The debate following Donalds’ comments focused on whether he praised Jim Crow, with Democrats such as Biden spokeswoman Sarafina Chitika saying that Trump and his allies “pledge to turn America back to Jim Crow.”

“If Trump and his team didn’t know before, they are showing black voters what ‘Make America Great Again’ means: less freedom and fewer economic opportunities for our families,” Chitika said in a statement.

Donalds replied on Wednesday in the movie.

“The Joe Biden campaign is lying to you once again,” Donalds said. “I said there were more black families under Jim Crow and it was Democrat policies under HEW and the welfare state that helped destroy the black family.”

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