Rather than celebrating the contributions of African Americans on the first day of Black History Month, Vice President Mike Pence published a tone-deaf tweet, referencing slavery and praising a white man. In the post, the VP applauds President Abraham Lincoln for passing the 13th Amendment, which legally freed African American slaves in 1865.
By no surprise, the tweet incited outrage on Twitter from those who felt it was necessary to school Pence on what black history actually entails and what Black History Month is about. As many pointed out, black history encompasses more than slavery, and it has nothing to do with white people.
Instead, February is the month to recognize the countless achievements made by African Americans, which have helped our country and the world. It’s also a month where we acknowledge the black men and women who often don’t get enough credit for their extraordinary achievements, like Edmonia Lewis, Shirley Ann Jackson, and Philip Downing.
Mike, it is BLACK history month. A month we celebrate BLACK people, not a white President. Delete this tweet, and try again. https://t.co/4UftL7EbQs— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) February 2, 2017
@VP emancipation is not black history. It did not free slaves, just deligitimized slavery. Black history is what we did for America.— Chris Chandler (@cjchandler77) February 2, 2017
Pence also seems to be unaware of—or perhaps, indifferent to—the fact that Lincoln was not morally opposed slavery, and that the last clause in the 13th Amendment did legalize prison slavery and led to the mass incarceration of black and brown people.
The 13th amendment which assured that 1 in 3 black males experience jail or prison by way of systematic oppression. https://t.co/Tz71ty6N7p— Trey Songz (@TreySongz) February 2, 2017
Film director and producer, Ava DuVernay, who made the award-winning Netflix documentary 13th, which explores and analyzes this amendment, also responded to Pence:
Maybe remember when ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE did stuff? Besides Ben Carson + Omarosa of course. And um, about the 13th amendment... oh nevermind. https://t.co/dIPV6YAeS4— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 2, 2017
As if the White House couldn’t sink any lower on its failure to recognize Black History Month, Pence’s tweet came just hours after President Donald Trump used the Black History Month White House breakfast as a platform to parade his “token negros,” bash CNN, and praise Fox News. By no surprise, Twitter wasted no time sounding off on the president.