U.S. Rep. Al Green would “rather see a sermon than hear a sermon.”
But more than anything, it seemed, he wanted to deliver a sermon.
“As I look at the panel, and I’m grateful for your attendance, the – the eye would perceive that the seven of you have something in common. You appear to be white men,” Green told a group of banking CEOs summoned to a House Financial Services Committee hearing Wednesday.
Rep @AlGreen to CEOs: “You appear to be white men. You’ve all SERMONIZED about diversity. If you believe your likely successor will be a woman or a person of color, will you kindly extend a hand into the air?”
<No hands go up>
Green: “I’d rather see a sermon than hear a sermon” pic.twitter.com/nMm7GiQHcx
— Alexis Goldstein 🔥 (@alexisgoldstein) April 10, 2019
The esteemed congressman from Texas then demanded the seven executives testify to their race.
“If one among you happens to be something other than a white male, would you kindly extend a hand into the air? Kindly let the record reflect that there are no hands in the air and that the panel is made up of white men,” Green said.
“This is not pejorative,” he continued. “You’ve all sermonized to a certain extend about diversity. If you believe that your likely successor will be a woman or a person of color, would you kindly extend a hand into the air?”
When none raised a hand, Green added a little dramatic effect before chastising the group and demanding they do more to dig up any connections between their companies and the slave trade that ended more than 150 years ago. Green, known for his theatrics and flair for drama, is one of only two Democrats who signed on to legislation to impeach President Trump introduced last month. Green was rebuked in a prior attempt to impeach Trump last year.
“For fear that you may not hear me, just raise your hand now so that I’ll know you’re there. Raise your hand, please. All of you,” Green told the bankers Wednesday.
“I know it’s difficult to go on the record sometimes, but the record has to be made,” Green preached. “All white men, and none of you, not one, appears to believe that your successor will be a female or a person of color.
“Is your bank likely to have a female or person of color within the next decade? Kindly extend a hand into the air – two, three, four, five. Alright, five. Without giving the commentary I would dearly like to give, I’ll move on,” he said. “You know, I’m sitting next to a reverend, and I’ve heard him say that he’d rather see a sermon than hear a sermon. Let us have an opportunity to see a sermon when you return.”
Green proceeded to grill JP Morgan, Chase & Co. CEO James Dimon about alleged transactions between the bank’s early companies and slave traders, and Dimon acknowledged he believes the bank issued loans with slaves as collateral, CNS News reports.
The congressman polled the CEOs on whether they’d investigated business ties to slavery and if they believed their companies benefited from slaves. None raised their hands.
“I do want you to know that we believe you can do better,” Green lectured.
Other Democrats at the hearing demanded the CEOs create a position of “Director of the Office of Minority Inclusion in Banks” and most agreed, CNS News reports.
“Will you authorize this person to then have a meeting with me so I can do a follow-up, that we can be more than aspiration?” Rep. Joyce Beatty said.