A Florida mayoral candidate is under fire after spewing racist vitriol at a community forum this week where he told a group of pro-reparations activists to “go back to Africa.”
Video of candidate Paul Congemi’s rant went viral following a heated mayoral forum in St. Petersburg Tuesday, July 18. Congemi, who is white, chided local activist Jesse Nevel and other supporters of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, which seeks reparations for Black Americans, according to NBC News.
However, some residents felt the politician went too far with his opposition.
“Mr. Nevel, you and your people, you talk about reparations,” Congemi, 60, says. “The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.”
Several of Nevel’s supporters can be heard erupting in disbelief and anger at the remark — but Congemi’s tirade didn’t stop there.
“My advice to you, my advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour,” the mayoral candidate says. “Go back to Africa, go back to Africa.”
It should be noted that Nevel, national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, also is white. The group helps rally white support for Black-led community activist efforts, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
After his outburst made its rounds on social media, Congemi emailed a statement to the newspaper issuing somewhat of an apology.
“I must comment on the remarks I said last night … Yes: I did tell those people to go back to Africa,” Congemi wrote. “My remark was meant for the group Mr. Nevel represents. Not all African-Americans. Just those that Nevel represents.”
This is the Florida man’s third run for mayor.