Elijah Cummings shares memories of racism
WASHINGTON – Saying President Donald Trump does not fully comprehend how it feels to be treated “like less than a dog,” Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday explained that the president’s recent “go back” comments have sparked memories of racist attacks he experienced as a child in Baltimore.
Cummings, D-Maryland, said that he was attacked by a white mob, who taunted and threw rocks and bottles at him and several other Black kids seeking to integrate a pool in South Baltimore, when he was just 11 years old, according to an interview with the Baltimore Sun.
He said that on that day in 1962, he heard shouts from the mob saying: “Go back where you came from,” the Sun reported.
“I don’t think these Republicans or Trump fully understand what it feels like to be treated like less than a dog,” Cummings said to the Sun. “I’m feeling the same things that I felt when these white folks down in South Baltimore were throwing rocks and bottles at me. But now, I feel like it’s the president of the United States doing it.”
Trump on Sunday bashed four Democratic congresswomen of color on Twitter, calling on them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
More: What we know about the ‘send her back’ chants that erupted at Trump’s North Carolina rally
More: ‘Send her back’ Trump rally chant heightens calls for increased security for Rep. Omar
The four progressive Democrats, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have pushed back against Trump, calling his remarks “racist,” “xenophobic,” and “bigoted.” Trump has doubled down on his remarks and claimed the comments are not racist.
All four congresswomen are U.S. citizens, with three being born in the United States. Omar immigrated from Somalia over 20 years and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
The House voted Tuesday to formally condemn Trump’s tweets as racist, by a 240-187 vote.
Distracter in chief: Trump draws on familiar playbook with attacks on women lawmakers of color
The president’s attacks took on a new dimension Wednesday evening during his rally in North Carolina. While criticizing the four Democratic lawmakers, colloquially known as “The Squad,” chants of “send her back” erupted when Trump mentioned Omar.
Trump has since distanced himself from the chant, and some Republicans have condemned the chanting by the president’s supporters.
Democrats have come to Omar’s defense, blasting the chants and the president. And leading Democrats in the House have raised concerns about Omar’s safety and that of the three other progressive lawmakers amid Trump’s continued attacks.
More: Rep. John Lewis on Trump tweets: ‘I know racism when I see it’
‘Where are you in this?’: Meghan McCain calls out Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
Cummings said that it’s “painful” to talk about his past experiences of racism, and that those experiences stay with you for the rest of your life.
“When you do things to children, it’s not the deed, it’s the memory. Because they never forget,” the Maryland Democrat said. “So, it became a part of my DNA.”
Despite Trump’s comments dominating the news cycle, Cummings said that he is going to continue to focus on doing work for “generations unborn” of all races, the Sun reported.
“I keep reminding our speaker and I keep reminding The Squad that we must be effective and efficient,” he said. “That’s what I concentrate on, the big picture.”
Like what you’re reading?: Download the USA TODAY app for more