House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries came under fire last week after a 30-year-old op-ed he wrote in college resurfaced, the New York Post reported.
Shortly after he was first elected to Congress ten years ago, Jeffries told the Wall Street Journal that he had a “vague recollection” of the controversy surrounding his uncle Leonard Jeffries.
Leonard Jeffries, the former chair of the Black Studies Department at the City University of New York, faced backlash in the early 1990s for denouncing “rich Jews” for their involvement in the slave trade. The elder Jeffries also claimed that Jewish Hollywood executives conspired to disparage blacks in movies.
But in his 2013 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hakeem Jeffries played dumb, saying his local Binghamton, New York paper didn’t cover the controversy and the internet didn’t exist back then, so he only had a “vague recollection” about it.
However, CNN reported last Wednesday that while he was a senior at Binghamton University in 1992, Hakeem Jeffries wrote an op-ed for the Black Student Union’s paper “The Vanguard” addressing the controversy directly and defending both his uncle and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Jeffries argued that his uncle was challenging “the existing white supremacist educational system” and the “distortion of history,” and claimed that because of that he has faced a “media lynching.”
In his op-ed, the then-college senior also attacked black conservatives whom he described as “house negroes” who are accepted by the “white media.”
Jeffries called black conservatives “right-wing opportunists” whose agenda “is not designed to contribute to the upliftment of their people.” He claimed that black conservatives are rewarded for espousing “the political ideology of the power structure” by being “elevated” to positions typically reserved for white people.
Christiana Stephenson, a spokeswoman for Minority Leader Jeffries told CNN in a statement that the congressman has long maintained that he does not share his uncle’s views.