Byron Donalds shares video, explains context of widely criticized ‘Jim Crow’ remarks
Screenshot from Byron Donalds video, via X.

Screen Shot 2024-06-05 at 7.07.05 PM
'I was talking about Black families, conservative mindsets, and conservative voting.'

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds shared a lengthier video providing more context on controversial remarks widely criticized as nostalgia for the Jim Crow era.

“I was talking about Black families, conservative mindsets, and conservative voting,” Donalds wrote in a social media post. “Receipts are a beautiful thing! And don’t clip my words to keep lying.”

Also in the post was roughly a two-minute video of Donalds speaking at a “Congress, Cognac and Cigars” event organized by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at The Cigar Code in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the event, quoting Donalds’ remarks about Black Americans before the civil rights movement.

A nearly two-minute video provided by Donalds gives greater context to his statements, though the Naples Republican still mentions the Jim Crow era multiple times.

The video starts with Donalds, who is 45, describing the experience growing up with a single mother.

“Growing up, the one thing I knew I wanted to do — and this is not about my father, this is about what I wanted to do — is I wanted to be a father,” Donalds said. “So one of the things that’s actually happening in our culture, which you’re now starting to see in our politics, is the reinvigoration of Black families, with younger Black men and Black women, and that is also helping to breed the revival of a Black middle class in America.”

He then made his remarks about the political contrast of the state of Black families before and after the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

“During Jim Crow, the Black family was together,” he said. “During Jim Crow, more Black people were not just conservative — Black people have always been conservative-minded — but more Black people voted conservatively. And then H.E.W., Lyndon Johnson — you go down that road, and now we are where we are.”

H.E.W. references the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which actually was first implemented under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. It existed through Democratic President Johnson’s administration in the 1960s.

Critical to the history Donalds referenced, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That contributed to a major political realignment with many segregationist Southern Democrats leaving the party, or at least no longer supporting Democrats for federal office. Black voters, once a largely Republican bloc of voters, also became reliable Democrats.

Donalds, one of a few Black Republicans in the House, has often faced criticism based on his own race. Last year, an individual anonymously sent a copy of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to the Congressman’s office, as one example.

But the Congressman’s comments in Philadelphia prompted an immediate backlash by Black Democrats. Most notably, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries attacked Donalds on the House floor for his remarks.

“It has come to my attention that a so-called leader has made the factually inaccurate statement that Black folks were better off during Jim Crow. That’s an outlandish, outrageous and out-of-pocket observation,” Jeffries said.

“We would not be better off when a young boy named Emmett Till could be brutally murdered without consequence, because of Jim Crow. We would not better off when Black women could be sexually assaulted without consequence, because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when people could be systematically lynched without consequence, because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when children could be denied a high quality education without consequence, because of Jim Crow. We were not better off when people could be denied the right to vote without consequence, because of Jim Crow. How dare you make such an ignorant observation?”

Donalds immediately went to social media and accused Jeffries of lying. He also said the Democratic leader was acting on behalf of President Joe Biden’s campaign and cited controversial remarks the Democratic President made in 2020 that any Black voters who support Trump over him “ain’t Black.”

“Now, they’re trying to say that I said Black people were doing better under Jim Crow,” Donalds said in a social media video. “I never said that… What I said was that you had more Black families under Jim Crow. And it was the Democrat policies or under H.E.W., under the welfare state, that did help to destroy the Black family. That’s what I said. And I also said, you’re seeing a reinvigoration of Black families today in America. And that is a good thing. So don’t listen to the lies from the Biden administration. I know what I said.”

Donalds remains under consideration for Trump’s running mate. He has already become a regular surrogate for Trump outside of Florida, including a high-profile speech the Naples Republican gave last month in Brooklyn, where he was raised.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Michael K

    June 5, 2024 at 9:03 pm

    Actually, Reagan’s “war on drugs” essentially warehoused young Black men and tore millions of families apart – policies continued through the Bush and Trump administrations. The prison industrial complex continues to profit mightily here in Florida.

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  • My Take

    June 5, 2024 at 9:43 pm

    Which was better for southern blacks?
    Slavery, with its many plantation trade schools (DeSlantis)
    Or Jim Crow, where famIlies huddled together … in fear.

  • My Take

    June 5, 2024 at 9:49 pm

    The southern GOP was largely a black party in 1950.
    But in the 1960s the northern GOP welcomed in the southern white haters.
    The haters moved over and took over the southern GOP (and now the whole GOP) and blacks moved into the party now of civil rights.

  • PeterH

    June 6, 2024 at 4:44 am

    More families of color have reached the middle class as a result of education reform, self determination and hard work which allowed access to better paying jobs. All of which had little to do with the GOP or its policies.

  • FloridaPatriot

    June 6, 2024 at 8:10 am

    This guy….SMFH

  • Ocean Joe

    June 6, 2024 at 8:26 am

    Donalds can forget about being VP, Trump has already settled on his doppelganger, Rex Heuerman of Gilgo Beach.

  • Alexandra Zakhvatayev

    June 6, 2024 at 11:54 pm

    Right now there is a genocide of Ukrainians – my family’s people –
    Byron Donalds has voted down all aid to Ukraine. He stands by and watches as Russia launches the deadliest invasion to human life in modern history.

    How can this man have the audacity to talk about racism when his policies actively leave innocent life defenseless in a brutal campaign against humanity. He has lost touch with American history, the quintessential and binding tradition of overcoming oppression and slavery.

    Byron Donalds took this seat – he had his moment in history – and he screwed it up big time… there was no bigger scandal brought to SW Florida quite like this.

  • My Take

    June 7, 2024 at 3:38 pm

    They’ll talk about slavery (DeScamus)
    They’ll talk about Jim Crow (Donalds)
    But no one talks about the disgraceful Black Codes in between.
    Too short a period I guess.
    But I have read it was an important trigger for Reconstruction.

  • rick whitaker

    June 8, 2024 at 8:49 pm


  • sundance

    June 12, 2024 at 8:14 pm

    The statement is bad
    But your talking to a country that uses public information as a security question.

Comments are closed.


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