Delegate Called 'Uncle Tom' … Ready To Fight

Published August 27, 2008

Posted Aug. 27, 2008 – What did you call me?!  Democratic National Convention Committee press secretary Delmarie Cobb was ready to fight after being called an "Uncle Tom." 

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Cobb, pictured above, said the racially loaded slur came from Illinois Senate President Emil Jones while discussing her support for Clinton Saturday night.

"I was called an 'Uncle Tom' by Emil Jones in the lobby of the hotel, right in front of aldermen Freddrenna Lyle, Leslie Hairston and Latasha Thomas," Cobb, a member of Clinton's Illinois Steering Committee, told The Chicago Sun-Times.  

“I walked away and said good night and walked over across the hall to the elevators,” she recalled. “And he shouted across the lobby, ‘Uncle Tom!’

“And I came back over and said, ‘Excuse me, what did you just say?’ And he grabbed me by my arms and started laughing. And I said, ‘No, no. What did you just say?’ And he didn’t repeat it. And I said, ‘Did you call me an Uncle Tom?’ And then I came back with a barrage of things that I won’t repeat publicly.”

The epithet comes from the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 19th century anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and typically it is construed as an insult meaning a Black person who acts passively or submissively toward Whites.

Jones, who is also Black and pictured above, denies the slur. He says he was referring to Cobb and other Clinton supporters as "doubting Thomases." 

“She was spouting things about Barack,” Jones told FOX News. “What I said was, ‘Come on board, he’s a nice, clean cut guy and everything.’ I said, ‘We’ve got to stop all this. We’ve got too many doubting Thomases and we’ve got to get together.’

“And she was walking away and therefore she heard the last part of the word; she didn’t hear the whole part,” Jones added. “I cannot apologize for one misinterpreting what I said."

But Cobb doubts that explanation. She says when she confronted Jones, he did not indicate that she had misunderstood him. Cobb told the newspaper that those are "fighting words" and unacceptable.

Written by BET-Staff

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