*Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters is back in the headlines after responding to GOP Rep. Allen West’s assessment that she and other black leaders are “overseers” on a “21st-century plantation.”
Speaking on Fox News Wednesday night, West called himself a “modern-day Harriet Tubman” trying to lead black voters off the “plantation” — his description of the Democratic Party. The freshman Republican from Florida, a Tea Party favorite, had been asked about the anger expressed during a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) town hall meeting in Detroit.
At that town hall meeting, Waters said black lawmakers are hesitant to criticize President Obama because they are concerned they might lose support among African Americans. She said lawmakers are waiting for the community to “unleash” them, and said she heard back from audience members clearly when they vented their frustration about high unemployment among blacks.
West told Fox News that black Democrats are feeling “disregarded” and “disrespected.” He is the only black Republican in the CBC.
“I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility,” West said on Bill O’Reilly’s show. He specifically mentioned Waters, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., calling them “perceived leaders” in the black community. Lee and Waters are both former chairwomen of the caucus.
In a statement today, West stood by his remarks and said: “Today in the black community, we see individuals who are either wedded to a subsistence check or an employment check. Democrat physical enslavement has now become liberal economic enslavement, which is just as horrible.”
Waters, who was at a caucus job fair in Atlanta, told MSNBC that the caucus wants people to know “we feel their pain. We want them to know we understood that.”
In the ultimate irony, Waters told MSNBC that Allen West’s brother was at the Atlanta job fair looking for work. This prompted another statement from Rep. West, who said the struggling economy is personal to him because of his brother’s situation.
“I am encouraged by any job conference which helps individuals find a job, however, the underlying problem remains. The economic policies of President Obama have not set the conditions for job growth, especially in the black community,” West stated.