Milwaukee Democrat calls GOP leader ‘racist’ and ‘disrespectful’ after rejecting Black Historical Society funds
MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Democratic lawmaker who sits on the budget writing committee is calling a Republican's reasoning for rejecting funding for the Black Historical Society “racist” and “disrespectful.”
During the Legislature's budget writing committee, Democrats attempted to restore $169,000 in Governor Tony Evers' budget proposal for the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, but Republicans quickly rejected the idea.
Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) made a pitch to Republicans on the committee to keep the funding in place because she believes it would benefit communities of color.
“Every time there’s an opportunity for this body to support our communities of color, regardless of how small the impact is, we chose to overlook those opportunities,” said Johnson.
Co-chair of the budget committee, Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), claimed he didn’t know the funding was a priority, saying in part because there’s already a temporary display on Black History Month at the State Capitol people can view.
“Maybe you all were hearing this as a priority, I did not,” said Born. “We support history, we support diversity in a variety of ways. I think if you want to look at Black History you can stop by third floor East and look at the Black History display that's in the case there.”
Johnson responded, “Oh my God.”
“You can have as many outbursts as you want over there, senator,” said Born. “I didn’t say anything that isn’t a fact.”
Johnson then tried to respond to his comment but was dismissed and Born called a roll call on the vote that rejected the funding.
After the committee, Johnson posted on twitter a photo of the Black History Month display, “After saying "nobody asked for this," even though it WAS IN THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET, his racist ass said to go look at the Capitol's tiny 3rd floor display if we wanted to learn about Black History,” she wrote.
After saying "nobody asked for this," even though it WAS IN THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET, his racist ass said to go look at the Capitol's tiny 3rd floor display if we wanted to learn about Black History. pic.twitter.com/pssQfElbra— LaTonya Johnson (@StateSenLaTonya) May 13, 2021
Johnson told CBS 58 in an interview that she was unaware the display case existed and called Born’s comments racist and disrespectful.
“The fact that he called me out for being disrespectful and out of order when he didn’t realize the very comments that he made were disrespectful,” Johnson said. "It's becoming a trend with this dismissive attitude they have when it comes to communities of color to their struggles, to their concerns, was on full display."
The Milwaukee Democrat also said she feels there’s a “hostile work environment” in the Capitol if you're a person of color.
For the last few years, Republicans who control both chambers in the Legislature declined Democrats' resolutions to honor Black History Month.