Black Caucus Gives Fashioned Response to Trump in the Form of African...

Black Caucus Gives Fashioned Response to Trump in the Form of African Attire


Though there were many protest events in response to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union, members of the Congressional Black Caucus perhaps won their greatest victory by showing up.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence

Seated together and being seen on national TV wearing kente cloth over a two hour period was perhaps a larger victory than not attending at all. If social media is a guide, the CBC won an auspicious fashion victory in the wake of Trump’s Oval Office comments that Haiti, El Salvador and Africa were “shithole countries.” 

Kente cloth has its origin from the Ashanti Empire of Ghana in the late 1600s.

The CBC’s cultural timing could not be better. The world premiere of Marvel’s soon-to-be blockbuster movie Black Panther premiered in Los Angeles on January 29. The red carpet was an African fashion extravaganza to say the least.

Member on the House floor during Trump’s lengthy speech sported kente ties, cloth, pocket squares, and even bowties, included CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas), who wore a large kente fabric over his right shoulder like so many other members. 

Two other House members who are not in the Black Caucus, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) also wore large kente cloth sashes in solidarity with the CBC.

Rep. Bobby Scott

In a meeting on the day the government shutdown, members of the Congressional Black Caucus decided they needed to have some reaction to Trump’s Oval Office conversation that included calling Africa, Haiti and El Salvador “shithole countries.”

It wasn’t the first time the CBC was dealing with Trump’s racist track record towards people of color. It was the twentieth time.  Though several members were dubious about a protest that was symbolic and not substantive, all were united on the idea that there had to be a response of some kind. 

The 45th President’s history includes a father who was arrested at a KKK rally in New York, Trump’s company being tagged for housing discrimination at his properties, and the Central Park Five case.  More recently, there was Trump’s feigned cluelessness during the 2016 campaign about who David Duke was and his talk of banning Muslims form entering the U.S. and building a wall at the Mexican border.

All of that was followed by predictable public support of Trump by white supremacists and racists such as Duke.  It all would carry over into Trump’s lack of outrage after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last August resulted in murder. 

Many in the CBC felt that not showing up or showing up and walking out was the appropriate response to a president with an obvious and consistent track record of vilifying people of color. The presence of African attire perhaps spoke louder than any press statement. 

We “will stare racism in the face” by attending the speech,” CBC Chair Richmond

(D-La.) said at a press conference the morning of the State of the Union. What he also said was something that should be an unthinkable statement from a member of Congress toward a modern American president.   

“The President has taken every opportunity to divide this country along racial lines. Words matter. President Trump’s racist rhetoric makes the county less safe for people of color by encouraging and emboldening and pandering to those who wish to do harm to others based on the color of their skin,” Richmond asserted. 

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke


  1. The African colors are a beautiful thing but there was a clear look of disgust on the Democrats face at the SOTU address. Doctor King would have been disgusted by the behavior of the Black Caucus. They looked like a bunch grumpy Redneck racists of a time gone by with nasty looks on their faces.

    What difference does your skin color make? Be proud and do your jobs for the American People. How quickly people forget what real racists did when I was a child. The KKK was handing out cards in my school, and burning crosses on black families lawns in Canterbury Connecticut. That was real hatred.

    When you look on this page to the right and see an ad stating “Buy Black Bank Black”, imagine how that appears to a white person seeing it for the first time. Now flip the add and post “Buy White Bank White”… sound racist and unwelcoming to the opposite color, sure does to me!

    I am white, do you hate me because of my skin color? If not, it sure feels that way on my first visit to your website. Maybe people need to start thinking about the divisive rhetoric on both sides, because it’s painful to see people acting so petty and racist.

    If you feel the President is racist, perhaps you need to ask the blacks that support him why they don’t feel that way. We need to all find common ground and quit sowing the seeds of divisiveness and find a common grounds.

    I challenge everyone to try making friends with a random white person and understand them better. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend instead of reading articles that make new enemies.

    God Bless all that read this!