Dem leader Jeffries condemns ‘ignorant’ Byron Donalds for saying Black people were better off under Jim Crow

The leader of the House Democrats blasted his Republican colleague and vice presidental candidate possibility Bryon Donalds after the Florida represenative argued that Black families were closer under segregation.

“That’s an outlandish, outrageous, and out of pocket observation,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a floor speech.

Donalds, considered to be on the list of possible running mates for Donald Trump in the upcoming election, made the comments in an interview with The Washington Post published Wednesday. The congressman has long been considered an ally of Trump’s in the House and briefly flirted himself with the idea of running for speaker last fall after Kevin McCarthy was ousted.

“You see, during Jim Crow, the Black family was together,” Donalds told the Post. “During Jim Crow, more Black people were not just conservative — Black people have always been conservative-minded — but more Black people voted conservatively.”

Donalds blamed what he said was the decaying of the Black family structure in America on former President Lyndon B. Johnson and federal programs. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, and is credited with battling segregation in the South head-on. In 1965, he used National Guard troops to enforce the desegregation of schools in Alabama.

Jeffries, the first Black person to lead a major party’s caucus in the House or Senate, called Donalds’ remarks “ignorant” during a floor speech later in the day.

“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,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries invoked the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teen who was tortured and lynched by a mob in Mississippi in 1955, allegedly for the supposed crime of offending a white woman in a store.

“We were not better off when a young boy named Emmett Till could be murdered without consequence because of Jim Crow,” the Democratic leader said. “We were not better off when Black women could be sexually assaulted without consequence.”

The New York representative continued by noting the racist crimes committed against Black Americans under the era of segregation, which persisted in the American South for years with the legal protection of the Supreme Court until the “separate but equal” doctrine was overturned by the Court in 1954.

Till’s murder was a year later, and Black Americans would continue to face obstacles and hostility when exercising their rights to vote and participate as equal members of society for years to come.

Donalds has before claimed that Americans, and in particular Black Americans, will pivot towards socially conservative views in the upcoming months. Earlier in 2024, he told The Independent he expects Americans to shift their views in favor of banning abortion in the future.

“The reality of post Roe vs Wade is, nobody really knows what their position on abortion is. Like, I know my position. But I would say [with] the American people, that's still a moving target. It's a moving target amongst some Republicans. It's a moving target amongst some Democrats,” he said in April.