People rallied outside the Governor's Mansion Wednesday, demanding an apology for a phrase Gov. Ned Lamont used earlier this month while discussing economic help in response to the pandemic.
"One more time I'll tell you about the PPP loans, the Paycheck Protection Program. It's a little like the 40 acres and a mule. It's really a big giveaway that the federal government has done for good purpose I would say," Lamont said in a briefing on July 9.
That phrase, "40 acres and a mule," came from after the Civil War, when the Union promised the formerly enslaved that they'd receive 40 acres and lended mules as a form of reparations for their unpaid labor. The government later backtracked on that promise.
Protesters said the governor's use of the phrase was insensitive and he needs to take responsibility for it.
"He had a moral obligation, an ethical obligation to know his facts. Black history is American history, and so the facts of our history matter," protest organizer Gwen Samuel said.
The governor responded to the criticism Wednesday.
"Well my comment was about the Paycheck Protection Program, where there's still $100 billion there and I'm urging small business to take advantage of this opportunity, urging not for profits to take care of this opportunity. What I was talking about was opportunity," Lamont said.
Organizers said they want the governor to apologize and attend racial sensitivity training.