Watch CBSN Live

Rep. Andre Carson says Tea Party wants blacks "hanging on a tree"

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Democratic Rep. Andre Carson said at Congressional Black Caucus event last week that some Tea Party-backed members of Congress would love to see African Americans "hanging on a tree." He accused the Tea Party movement of using "Jim Crow" tactics to stop economic progress, particularly among minorities.

"Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens," Carson said at an Aug. 22 event in Miami, during a CBC jobs tour. "Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me... hanging on a tree."

A video of Carson's remarks and other clips from CBC events was posted online this week by The Blaze, a website founded by conservative personality Glenn Beck.

Carson's office told the Washington Post the congressman stands by the comments and made them in response to the frustration he's heard from voters in Miami and his home district with Congress' inability to improve the economy.

"The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities," Carson spokesman Jason Tomcsi told the Post. "We are talking about child nutrition, job creation, job training, housing assistance, and Head Start, and that is just the beginning."

The Tea Party has a history of butting heads with African-American leaders in Washington. The CBC's one Tea Party-Republican member, Rep. Allen West of Florida, said in response to Carson's remarks that he's reconsidering his membership in the group.

"I don't think they're moving toward the right manner in which we're going to solve the problems, not just in the black community, but all across the United States of America," he said on Fox News.

West noted that the black unemployment rate is 16 percent and among black teens is close to 40 percent, but he said that the conservative movement to which he belongs isn't to blame. "To try to all of a sudden have a scapegoat called the Tea Party... that's just a distraction," he said.

At an event in California last week, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters said the Tea Party "can go straight to hell," echoing Carson's critique that Tea Party lawmakers are blocking legislation that would help minorities and the economy in general. Last year, the NAACP passed a resolution condemning racism in the Tea Party movement.

Update: In a letter sent today to CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, West called Carson's remarks "unconscionable" and Waters' remarks "appalling." He asked Cleaver to condemn the remarks and disassociate the CBC from them.

West said the remarks amounted to race-baiting.

"As a member of the CBC, I look forward to working with you to help end this practice," he wrote. "All of us, especially Congressman Carson, Congresswoman Waters and others who have engaged in racially-motivated rhetoric, should follow the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., not the example of Reverend Jeremiah Wright."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome browser logo Chrome Safari browser logo Safari Continue