HFD union chief says city council member called him a ‘house negro’
06:25 AM CDT on Friday, July 24, 2009
By Lee McGuire & Courtney Zubowski / 11 News
HOUSTON—An already tense relationship between leaders at the Houston Fire Department and Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones heated up Thursday.
Jeff Caynon, President of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association, accused Jones of using what he considered racist terms during a July 14 meeting at a crowded restaurant.
In a letter, Caynon wrote that he was “astounded and disgusted by Jones’ description of him at the restaurant meeting as a 'house Negro' interested in only keeping a job."
According to the letter, he and Jones met at Harry’s Restaurant and Cafeteria to discuss Jones’ ongoing concerns about accusations of racist and sexist behavior inside the fire department.
Jones admits to calling Caynon a “house Negro,” but said she was “talking in passion.”
"He gets up and he says, ‘I am the president and I am black.’ And I say, ‘You know what? People warned me that I shouldn't meet with you. They told me that you are a house negro. That's what they told me. But you know what? I had the meeting with you anyway,’" said Jones.
When shown the letter Caynon wrote, Jones thought it was funny.
"You have to excuse me for laughing because this is funny to me," said Jones.