Delegate Says Jones Called Her ‘Uncle Tom’

Abdon M. Pallasch and Dave Mckinney, Chicago Sun-Times, August 25, 2008

“Last night, I was called an ‘Uncle Tom’ by Emil Jones [state Senate president] in the lobby of the hotel, right in front of [Ald.] Freddrenna Lyle and [Ald.] Leslie Hairston and [Ald.] Latasha Thomas,” said [Delmarie] Cobb, [a black Chicago political consultant and] a member of Clinton’s Illinois Steering Committee. “I walked over to him and asked him, ‘What did you just call me?’ ”

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Lyle, alderman of the South Side’s 6th Ward, said she was standing with Jones when the conversation took place in the lobby of the hotel where the Illinois delegation is staying, but she dismissed it as Jones engaging in harmless banter with someone he knows, although Lyle said she told him, “Emil, that’s bad even for you.”

Another of the aldermen who was standing in the lobby added, “He said it in jest.”

Cobb has been a high-profile Clinton supporter, and she said she is still paying the price in the African-American community.

“If people are still making digs at the Hillary Clinton people because we supported her, that is not going to bring us on board. It makes us feel as though we’re outsiders, and we’re Democrats,” Cobb said. “The litmus test for being black is [seen as] supporting Barack.”

Cobb said she saw Clinton supporters walking into an Illinois delegation meeting at the Marlowe Restaurant on Sunday and being handed Obama buttons, only to put the buttons in their pockets. That prompted the greeters to say, “You can tell the Hillary Clinton people, they never take the buttons.”

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Cobb said the confrontation started when she and Jones, who is also African-American, were talking about an earlier conversation they had at the Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago. “One day, you’ll be on the right side,” Cobb said Jones told her. She told him she was on the right side. She said Jones pointed at his Obama hat and said, “No, this is the right side,” she said.

“Then he came up behind me. He said ‘Thirty-five thousand people went to Springfield [to support Obama on Saturday],’” she said. “I said, ‘Then 35,000 people drank the Kool-Aid.,’ He said, ‘Barack is a clean-cut guy. He never liked gutter politics, that’s why the Clintons did so-and-so. . . .’ I said, ‘I don’t want to get into this. So I went over to the elevator, and he said, ‘Uncle Tom!’ Then he grabbed me and hugged me and started laughing. I said, ‘What did you say?’ I turned to Freddrenna Lyle, and I said, ‘What did he say?’ She wouldn’t say anything, That’s when I said some bad things to him.”

Taking a final shot at Jones, Cobb said, “Calling me an ‘Uncle Tom’ is beyond the pale, especially considering where he is [close] with Mayor Daley and with [Gov.] Blagojevich, I am hardly the Uncle Tom here.”

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