Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, said Tuesday that some members of the Congressional Black Caucus will boycott President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, while others “will stare racism in the face” by attending the speech.
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Richmond, who has served as the chair of the caucus – which has about four dozen members – since 2016, criticized Trump for what he called discriminatory words and actions, adding, “The state of our precious union is fractured.”
Some members of the CBC will boycott the address, he said, while others will “stare racism straight in the face” by attending.
“The President has taken every opportunity to divide this country along racial lines,” Richmond said. “Words matter. President Trump’s racist rhetoric makes the county less safe for people of color by encouraging and emboldening and pandering to those who wish to do harm to others based on the color of their skin.”
Richmond said it’s possible some CBC members may walk out of the President’s speech, but that as far as he knows, “I would say that’s a rumor. I don’t know of anyone who’s doing it.”
Richmond also called on the President to apologize for recent remarks about minorities that many viewed as inflammatory.
“If he wants to project tonight unity in this country then he would apologize for calling African countries and Haiti ‘shithole countries,’” Richmond said. “He would apologize for calling African-American football players who take a knee to fight police misconduct and injustice in the criminal justice system ‘sons of bitches.’”
On Sunday, the President responded to an interview by CNN’s Van Jones with rapper Jay Z by tweeting, “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!”
Asked about that statement, Richmond said, “What he doesn’t talk about is the fact that black unemployment is twice that of white unemployment.”
Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and member of the CBC, is expected to give a response to the President’s speech tonight during a BET News special called “Angela Rye’s State of the Union.”
Waters’ response is not connected to the official Democratic response, which will be given by Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III.