Rep. Byron Donalds and Joy Reid Spar Over Historical Context of Black Marriage Rates

A contentious debate unfolded on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” when host Joy Reid challenged Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) about his remarks on Black marriage rates during the Jim Crow era. The conversation quickly turned into a heated argument, with Reid repeatedly interrupting Donalds as he tried to clarify his statements.

The clash began when Reid brought up a story from the Jim Crow era to question Donalds’ comments. She asked why he referenced a time when black families faced severe oppression. “So again, why would you quote that era and say that at that time, the family all being in the home together was something we should think of as a good thing?” Reid asked.

Donalds attempted to explain, stating, “All I was talking about, Joy, was the marriage rate in the black community.” However, Reid continued to interrupt, questioning the relevance and implications of his statements.

Donalds defended his remarks, emphasizing that his point was about the positive impact of having fathers in the home. “It is always for the betterment of children to have leadership. Yes, for safety, for having two people in the home to help provide the economic needs for those children, so the family can succeed,” he said.

Reid pressed further, questioning how a time of extreme racial violence could be seen as beneficial for black families. “If a black man, a black father, could not protect his wife, his son, or himself from lynching and violence, how is him being in the home mean that that is an era that was better for the black family or that we should think of as a good thing?” she asked.

Donalds refuted the suggestion that he endorsed the Jim Crow era. “First of all, Joy, I never said it was better for black people in Jim Crow. I have never said that. And even my own words say that. Don’t try to impose the fact that the marriage rates were better, higher, I want to be clear, higher in the Jim Crow era to mean that I think Jim Crow was great. That’s a lie. That is gaslighting,” he asserted.

The exchange continued with both parties standing firm. Reid accused Donalds of bringing up the era inappropriately, while Donalds accused Reid of twisting his words. “You’re the one who brought it up,” Reid said. Donalds responded, “I’m not going to let you gaslight and misuse my words, Joy. I’m not going to let you do it.”

Donalds has continued to defend his position, arguing in other media appearances that his words were misrepresented. He faced significant criticism from Democratic leaders, including the Congressional Black Caucus and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who demanded an apology.