House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said President Donald Trump’s racist tweets aimed at four congresswomen of color bring back memories of the racism he faced as a child growing up in Baltimore.
“We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house, and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community,” Cummings told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “As we tried to March to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me.”
The Maryland Democrat said Trump’s racist remarks echo the same insults he heard as a 12-year-old boy in 1962, which he said were “very painful.”
“The interesting thing is that I heard the same chants. ‘Go home. You don’t belong here,’ he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
“And they called us the N-word over and over again.”
Trump launched racist attacks last week aimed at the four members of “The Squad” – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley are natural-born US citizens, while Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the US when she was young.
The tweets were widely condemned by congressional Democrats and some Republicans, and the House passed a resolution condemning the racist language Trump used.
At a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, the tweets prompted a “send her back” chant aimed at Omar by some Trump supporters. While the President said he was “not happy” with the chant the day after the event, he did not push back on it during his rally – instead Trump let the chant continue for 13 seconds without interruption.
Trump has defended his remarks last week, asserting he is not racist. Trump again on Sunday commented on the congresswomen of color, questioning their commitment to America and saying on Twitter that they are “destroying the Democratic Party.”
Cummings, who has served in the House since 1996, said Trump is “no doubt” a racist. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker went a step further Sunday on “State of the Union,” telling Dana Bash that Trump is “worse than a racist.”
Cummings, who grew up during the Civil Rights era, said he tried to give the President the benefit of the doubt but “when I hear those things, it takes me back.”
“When Trump does these things, it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50 some years ago, and it’s very, very painful,” he said. “It’s extremely divisive and I don’t think this is becoming of the President of the United States of America.”
CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.