Mayoral candidate Paul Congemi has made national news for a racial tirade at Tuesday’s mayoral forum when he told supporters of International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement-affiliated candidate Jesse Nevel to “go back to Africa.”
In the midst of a question about opportunities for youth in the city, Congemi veered off topic in a bizarre way:
“Mr. Nevel, you and your people, you talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations," Congemi said. "Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.”
The large contingent of Nevel’s supporters erupted in disbelief and outrage. “Get out of here!” a woman shouted repeatedly.
Congemi 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. Go back to Africa, go back to Africa.”
His comments were directed at Nevel, who is white. He is the national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, a group that organizes white support for black-led community social justice. It is an organization that works with the main Uhuru organization, which has many African-American members, including founder and activist Omali Yeshitela.
As his comments reverberated around the internet on Wednesday, Congemi, who usually favors handwritten letters, emailed the following statement to the Tampa Bay Times.
“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."