Council District 35 Candidate Claims Racism on Campaign Trail

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City Council Candidates Renee Collymore, left and Crystal Hudson, right.

A candidate running to succeed term-limited City Council Member Laurie Cumbo in the 35th District in Brooklyn has accused the campaign manager of a rival candidate of racism. 

The 35th district comprises the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and a portion of Bedford-Stuyvesant. 

Renee Collymore, a former Democratic District Leader and daughter of the late Barbadian immigrant, Cecil Collymore, told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that she “experienced racism”, on the campaign trail, from the campaign manager of Crystal Hudson.

Collymore described Hudson’s campaign manager as a “young white woman”, whose name she only knows as “Kate.”

When contacted, Hudson, the daughter and granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants, declined to give her campaign manager’s full name. 

“As I was speaking with a few members of the Carpenters Union, expressing to them that I have always supported our labor unions and have stood by labor for years, a white woman invited herself into my conversation and said, ‘Renee, I am Crystal Hudson’s campaign manager’” Collymore said. 

“I asked her to give me a second while I finish with the union members,” Collymore added. “She responded, ‘No, you have said enough. Now, move on.’”

Stating that she was “stunned” by the alleged remarks, Collymore said she asked “Kate” to repeat her comments.

“And she confirmed her statement: ‘I said that you have said enough! Move along now!’” Collymore said. 

“My response was, ‘Don’t you ever speak to me like that again. I live here. I am born and raised here. I was elected here, and I have served this community with dignity for years. How dare you disrespect me, as a Black woman, who is a candidate, on the ballot, and people are voting for me today,’” Collymore added. “’This is why residents don’t like gentrifiers moving into our neighborhoods changing things and telling us what to do. You’re racist and don’t ever speak to another Black woman this way,’ 

“She gave me a smug expression, then I walked away,” Collymore continued. 

She said her campaign reached out to Hudson’s to discuss the matter, “and Hudson said that she’s having her dinner.” 

When Collymore’s campaign team called back, Collymore said “an operative for Hudson responded that they will not engage in this conversation.”

Hudson, however, dismissed, in a Caribbean Life interview, Collymore’s allegation as “a preposterous lie.”

“My staff and I are running a campaign rooted in the principles of equity and justice,” she said. “As a third-generation Brooklynite and the daughter and granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants, I know all too well how displacement has destroyed Black and Brown communities, and look forward to fighting for truly affordable housing for residents of the 35th District when I’m elected to the City Council.” 

Last month, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who represents the 8th Congressional District, encompassing parts of Brooklyn and Queens, endorsed Hudson. 

Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee, and serves as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, making him the fifth highest-ranking Democrat in the House. 

“Crystal Hudson is the right leader, at the right time, with the right experience to move our Central Brooklyn community forward,” said Jeffries in endorsing her. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Crystal was there. When we came together to demand transformational police reform, Crystal was there.” 

 Hudson, who lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, where her family has been for three generations, said, if elected, she would be the first openly gay Black woman elected to the New York City Council. 

Collymore grew up in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill area and her late father was considered a pioneer Black business and property owner who invested in the neighborhood before it was gentrified. 

“My family has been in Brooklyn since the 1940’s,” she said. “Our home did not come from privilege; and, like many families, we struggled to attain the American Dream. 

“I’ve been fortunate to be on the front lines working to bring monumental change to New York’s greatest borough; and, with your help, I will continue ‘Building a Better Brooklyn,” Collymore said. 

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