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U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke made a recent appearance on satirical political talk show “The Colbert Report” on Tuesday. During her visit, host Stephen Colbert jested that her borough, Brooklyn, shouldn’t have joined with New York City in 1898. He continued to say he’d go back in time to correct the decision; he then asked Rep. Clarke what she would change. Clarke said she would demand to be set free from slavery, with a straight-face. Colbert quickly prompted an explanation. “Slavery…Really? I didn’t realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898,” said Colbert. Clarke fired back immediately saying, “I’m pretty sure there was.”
Colbert continued to probe into Rep. Clarke’s belief and asked the congresswoman who would have been her slave owners at the time. Clarke answered quickly, saying the Dutch would have been her oppressors. The Dutch lost control of the region in the 1600’s and slavery was abolished in the state in 1827. A spokesperson said that Clarke was joking with Colbert and that reaction to the comments was mixed. Rep. Clarke was not available for comment at the time requested because she was attending the Democratic National Convention.
Rep. Clarke made headlines in the past for providing false information about her educational background on her campaign materials in 2004 and 2005. Rep. Clarke received a scholarship to Oberlin College in Ohio. Although she spent the mass majority of her academic career at the institution, she transferred to Medgar Evers College when she was six hours shy of a degree from Oberlin College. When news broke that she’d lied about graduating from Oberlin College, Rep. Clarke attributed cloudy memory to the ‘mistake.’