Butterfield speaks to NCCU students on race, inequality, elections

Sep 15, 2014
In The News

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st, championed investment in education as a means to repair the “damage that has been done” to African-Americans by slavery in a guest lecture at N.C. Central University on Friday.

Butterfield, from the eastern North Carolina city of Wilson, represents part of Durham County. He is an NCCU alumnus who attended the school as an undergraduate and as a law student.

During the guest lecture, Butterfield spoke on income inequality along racial lines, the history of slavery and its impact, as well as on the November elections. He said that while America has tried to address issues of race, poverty and inequality, all efforts “have failed.”

“We’ve made some advances, but if you look at the relative disparity between black and white (people) in 2014 and compare that to the disparity that existed 50 years ago, you will see that the gap continues to be there,” he said. “The challenges are still great.”

In response to a question from the audience, Butterfield said that he wants to see education in jobs, science, technology, engineering and math education, and elementary and secondary education.

“(There’s) no question that if you were to compare the income levels and the wealth that has been accumulated by African-Americans, it’s directly related to their education attainment; there’s no question about it,” he said. “I don’t call for reparations, but I do call for America to repair the damage that has been done in an extraordinary way,” he also said.

Noah Nunn, a senior at N.C. Central University, said he’s seen tuition increases and fewer job opportunities for graduating students.

“How is that going to be different for me and for my fellow graduates in North Carolina?” Nunn said. “Because right now, all I see is nothing in favor of us.”

Butterfield said the question “opened the door” to a political conversation. He said right-wing conservatives have gained control of the U.S. House and in North Carolina’s legislature, and the U.S. Senate “is the last link in their chain” beyond the presidency.

“They are for less government, they only believe in national defense, control of currency, control of the state department,” he said. “They say (in) everything else the government has no role in providing a social security net for those people who are in-need. It’s a very dangerous time, and if we wake up on Nov. 5, and we find that these people have control of the outcome of this election … then President Barack Obama’s last two year will be pure hell, they’ll destroy his legacy, and more importantly, destroy everything we have fought for in this country.”