Rep. Hakeem Sekou Jeffries (D-NY) in a fireside chat at the Brookings Institution said he was surprised when the current president gave ultra-racist Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom during his State of the Union address. “When he said that we have a great American who is dealing with stage four cancer, we thought he was gonna talk about John Lewis. Then he said Rush Limbaugh. We said, ‘Oh, no he didn’t.’”
However, during the hour long Brookings discussion moderated by Rashawn Ray, the New Yorker remained calm, steady, and hopeful as he recounted American history along the same lines as Revered Barber in “The Third Reconstruction.” He talked about the greatness of the Constitution, but in a reference to slavery, the nephew of Africanist Dr. Leonard Jefferies added, America was “born with a genetic birth defect.”
After every Reconstruction period, or period of Black advancement, there has been a backlash. After the first Reconstruction, just after the American Civil War, the backlash lasted “for almost 100 years,” recalled Jeffries.
Reconstruction II came with the advent of the Civil Rights Movement. Then, came disgraced Richard Nixon and the “start of mass-incarceration,” explained the Brooklyn Hospital-born congressperson.
The Obama years started Reconstruction III. “We are in a backlash movement right now,” he affirmed.
Reconstruction IV will rise with a new leader for change, he continued optimistically. However, he left the definition of change very open to include every Democratic candidate running for President including Mayor Pete and Joe Biden.
While repeating Mayor Pete’s mantra that the Democrats have won the presidency in the last 50 years with a change agent from the outside of anointed Democratic circles, Jefferies added, “Joe Biden can say a return to normalcy is change.” Though the four-term congressperson is not ready to endorse any one candidate he says “it is important (for the candidate) to have a forward looking vision for America.”