Delegate says Jones called her 'Uncle Tom'
DENVER -- A black Hillary Clinton delegate on Sunday accused state Senate President Emil Jones of calling her an "Uncle Tom."
Jones -- Barack Obama's political mentor -- denied using the racially loaded slur against Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb, but two aldermen who said they witnessed the Saturday night exchange back up Cobb's account.
"Last night, I was called an 'Uncle Tom' by Emil Jones in the lobby of the hotel, right in front of [Ald.] Freddrenna Lyle and [Ald.] Leslie Hairston and [Ald.] Latasha Thomas," said Cobb, a member of Clinton's Illinois Steering Committee. "I walked over to him and asked him, 'What did you just call me?' "
The embarrassing flap came on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, which will open tonight with a string of Chicago speakers talking about Obama's life story. Jones is often referred to as Obama's "political godfather.''
Lyle, alderman of the South Side's 6th Ward, said she was standing with Jones when the conversation took place in the lobby of the hotel where the Illinois delegation is staying, but she dismissed it as Jones engaging in harmless banter with someone he knows, although Lyle said she told him, "Emil, that's bad even for you."
Another of the aldermen who was standing in the lobby added, "He said it in jest."
Cobb has been a high-profile Clinton supporter, and she said she is still paying the price in the African-American community.
"If people are still making digs at the Hillary Clinton people because we supported her, that is not going to bring us on board. It makes us feel as though we're outsiders, and we're Democrats," Cobb said. "The litmus test for being black is [seen as] supporting Barack."
Lyle said she saw Clinton supporters walking into an Illinois delegation meeting at the Marlowe Restaurant on Sunday and being handed Obama buttons, only to put the buttons in their pockets. That prompted the greeters to say, "You can tell the Hillary Clinton people, they never take the buttons."