Yesterday, North Carolina U.S. Representative proposed legislation that would rename a post office after poet, civil rights activist and 20th-century icon Dr. Maya Angelou in Winston-Salem, N.C. However, the bill was opposed by nine Republican congressmen based on preconceived notions that Angelou had ties to Communism in the 1960s.
The House of Representatives spent its legislative day Tuesday naming nine post offices. Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) made the suggestion, but the idea was quickly dismissed by the opposition. Angelou was a supporter of the Democratic party and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and a postage stamp honored her after her death in 2014.
Nine Republican members opposed the honor: Mo Brooks (Ala.); Ken Buck (Colo.); Michael Burgess (Texas); Jeff Duncan (S.C.); Glenn Grothman (Wis.); Andy Harris (Md.); Thomas Massie (Ky.); Alex Mooney (W.V.); and Steven Palazzo (Ala.).
“I think people should investigate Maya Angelou a little bit, and I’ll suggest perhaps if you want to investigate a little bit further that perhaps you Google ‘Maya Angelou’ and look at other articles in places like the American Thinker or the American Spectator,” Rep. Grothman stated on the House floor.
The two sites he mention are conservative news providers that made derogatory allegations about Angelou’s past life as an activist in 60s.
According to statements released by other members of congress, they based their opposition on a quote from her memoir, The Heart of a Woman:
“[A]s black people often said, ‘Wasn’t no Communist country that put my grandpappa in slavery. Wasn’t no Communist lynched my poppa or raped my mamma.’”
Their opposition is ironic because there are numerous statues, plaques and monuments dedicated to people — Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Jefferson Davis to name a few — who have “sympathies” to the institution of slavery, the Confederacy, racism and bigotry.
House Democrat Rep. Steve Israel of New York said, “The fact that these nine Members would cast a no-vote shows a blatant disrespect and only adds to the damaging actions they’ve taken this year to reverse progress from long and hard-fought civil rights battles.”
The bill was passed with 371 votes even though the nine opposed.