Election 2020

U.S. Risks Return to Days of Segregation, Says Lee in DNC Fundraising Mailer

U.S. Risks Return to Days of Segregation, Says Lee in DNC Fundraising Mailer
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Sept. 10, 2015. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

A fundraising email from the Democratic National Committee today featured a member of the Congressional Black Caucus vowing that the country could not go back to the days of segregated schools and lunch counters.

The subject line of the email is Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) saying, “I boycotted Trump’s inauguration. Here’s why.”

Lee also skipped the State of the Union address in January, citing an “all-out assault on our democracy” being waged by President Trump from “relentless attacks on the press to outrageous statements that undermine the intelligence community and the Russia investigation, and repeated threats to our judicial system.” She also said his recent at the time comment calling El Salvador, Haiti and African nations “shithole countries” was “racist and further demonstrates a lack of respect for the office of the presidency.”

In the new DNC mailer, Lee said she skipped the inauguration because she “could not in good conscience celebrate an incoming president who had normalized the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party.”

“After riding racism and fear to the White House, Trump is now pushing policies that harm people of color, immigrants, and working people. For many of us, his presidency represents an attack on our very existence,” she said. “But we cannot afford to give up hope. There is far too much at stake for us to retreat from this fight.”

After the email asked for donations to aid Democrats’ midterm election campaigns, Lee said that “the rising tide of hate is a reality we must continue to grapple with — even at the highest levels of our government.”

“Let’s not forget that Donald Trump led the birther movement to question the legitimacy of Barack Obama — our first African-American president. Instead of rejecting Trump’s racist attacks, the Republican Party threw their support behind him,” she said. “Trump also sent a clear signal to white supremacists that it was time to ‘take their country back.'”

“We will not go back to the days where I could not enroll in a public school unless it was segregated,” said Lee, a 71-year-old Texas native. “The days when my dad, a World War II and Korean War veteran, was denied entry at restaurants due to the color of his skin. The days when my mother was refused the opportunity to buy a house because African-Americans weren’t allowed to purchase homes.”

The congresswoman declared “we must do everything we can to fight against the forces of hatred that are on the rise under Trump — and that starts with organizing in our communities ahead of November’s election.”

Last week, DNC Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) sent out a survey to gauge how party members rate the importance of issues such as jobs and income inequality, taxes, climate change, immigration, healthcare, racial justice, gun violence prevention, veterans support, LGBTQ issues, retirement security and more heading into midterm elections.

“Change comes from listening to one another and learning what issues will mobilize voters to turn out to the polls,” Ellison said in an email accompanying the survey.