The Congressional Black Caucus is actively considering boycotting President Trump’s Jan. 30 State of the Union address.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is expected to announce whether the CBC will boycott the next State of the Union address. (Courtesy Photo)
The AFRO was told, by a CBC spokesperson on Jan. 16, that the organization will discuss a boycott of Trump’s address at the weekly Wednesday luncheon meeting on Jan. 17. The spokesperson said it is not clear when U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the chairman of the CBC, will announce whether the group will boycott.
“When they decide to tell the world of their decision on a boycott is up to them,” the spokesperson said.
Talk of boycotting the State of the Union intensified when President Trump allegedly insulted non-European countries such as Haiti, El Salvador and those on the African continent, calling them “s–thole countries.” CBC members were upset at the characterization and some decided soon after not to attend the State of the Union.
“For the first time since I began serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will not be attending the president’s State of the Union address,” Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said in a statement that was published in the Jan. 14 editions of the Tampa Bay Times. “I have no doubt that instead of delivering a message of inclusivity and an agenda that benefits all Americans, President Trump’s address will be full of innuendo, empty promises and lies.”
Wilson and the Trump administration locked horns when the president told the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a Black man who was killed in Niger last year that “he knew what he was getting into” when he signed up for the military. Wilson also had to correct Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly when he said that the representative claimed credit for a federal building in the Miami area and it was proven that she never made that statement.
“Congressman Lewis will not be in attendance for the SOTU,” a spokesperson for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) told the AFRO in an email on Jan. 17.
After his election in 2016, Trump belittled Lewis and his largely middle-class district based in Atlanta saying that it “was in horrible shape.” Lewis recently said publicly that Trump is a racist.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a congress member who has openly called for Trump to be impeached, said on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show on Jan. 14 that she won’t attend the State of the Union either.
The CBC rarely employs this tactic as a sign of protest. While the CBC vigorously disagreed with many of the policies of the George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford presidential administration, their dissatisfaction didn’t rise to the level of a boycott.
The only State of the Union that has been boycotted by the CBC was the January 1971 address by President Richard Nixon. The boycott, an unheard of tactic at that time, forced Nixon to meet with the CBC shortly and gain some concessions such as increased social services spending, using federal power to fight racism and discrimination and more opportunities for people of color in employment and government contracting.