Page Ivey, AP, February 19, 2009
The highest-ranking black congressman said Thursday that opposition to the federal stimulus package by southern GOP governors is “a slap in the face of African-Americans.”
U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said he was insulted when the governors of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and his home state, which have large black populations, said they might not accept some of the money from the $787 billion stimulus package.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he would accept the money, and none of the others has rejected it outright. The Republican governors of Idaho and Alaska also said they had reservations about whether the money would come with too many strings attached, but Clyburn said he was particularly taken aback by southern governors who said they might decline it.
Clyburn spokeswoman Hope Derrick later said Clyburn didn’t mean he thought those governors were racially motivated in their opposition, but that rejecting stimulus money would hurt black residents.
Clyburn began his remarks to reporters Thursday by talking about the Juneteenth celebration, which marks when slaves in Texas finally learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation more than a year after it happened.
“Knowing my history and knowing Texas history, all of this, it was a slap in the face of African-Americans,” Clyburn said.