Tina Moore, NY Daily News, September 5, 2012
Brooklyn Rep. Yvette Clarke was the laughingstock of Brooklyn — and the nation — Wednesday after offering a preposterous explanation of New York history on “The Colbert Report.”
The politician told Stephen Colbert, in a spot that aired Tuesday night, that slavery persisted in Brooklyn until as late as 1898. In reality, slavery was legally abolished in New York in 1827.
“Some have called Brooklyn’s decision to become part of New York City ‘The Great Mistake of 1898,’” Colbert said. “If you could get in a time machine and go back to 1898, what would you say to those Brooklynites?”
“I would say to them, ‘Set me free,’” Clarke responded.
Pressed by Colbert to say what she would have been freed from, the black Democrat responded, “Slavery.”
“Slavery. Really? I didn’t realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898,” Colbert followed.
“I’m pretty sure there was,” Clarke continued.
“Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?” the quick-witted comic questioned, never one to let slip a priceless live TV moment.
Clarke responded: “The Dutch.”
Wrong again: The Dutch formally ceded control of New Amsterdam to the English in 1674.
As to the Colbert disaster, Clarke’s spokeswoman, Kristia Beaubrun, said her boss was just joking. “It’s supposed to be humorous.”
“Based on the feedback that we’re getting, some viewers understood that and some viewers did not understand,” she said, adding that Clarke couldn’t comment because she was at the Democratic National Convention.