Join Fox News for access to this content

You have reached your maximum number of articles. Log in or create an account FREE of charge to continue reading.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Please enter a valid email address.

A Summit, New Jersey councilmen denounced critics at a city council meeting, “disgusted” at the pushback he got from being invited to speak at the city’s Juneteenth event because of his affiliation with the Republican Party.

Summit Councilman Jamel Boyer told Fox News Digital on Friday that he was also “disrespected” while speaking at the Juneteenth celebration.

“So, the host comes over to me, and she whispers in my ear while I’m speaking, to wrap it up. I mean this is not what you do to your sitting councilman, especially on this day. I thought it was completely absurd, insulting, disrespectful. This whole process has been discriminatory.” 

The City of Summit held a Juneteenth celebration event on June 19th, a practice recently adopted by cities across the country since the day became a federal holiday.

Summit, New Jersey Councilman Jamel Boyer

Summit, New Jersey Councilman Jamel Boyer speaks at the city’s 2024 Juneteenth celebration. (Photo credit: City of Summit NJ)

Boyer received an invitation to speak months before the event with the intention of highlighting him as the city’s first Black man elected to city council since the city was founded in 1869.

However, a few days before the event, Boyer said his invitation was met with controversy from certain members of the Juneteenth Planning Committee.

“I think me being a Republican and the first [Black] councilman of Summit is not what certain groups of people in Summit wanted to see. I think that it really drives them absolutely crazy,” Boyer told Fox News Digital.

“So, the week of the event, I’m getting all these phone calls from the council president and other council persons saying, ‘Hey, did you plan on speaking?’ Of course. ‘Well, they don’t want you to speak’. Well, who doesn’t want it? ‘Well, the planning committee and the planning committee consist of members from the Interfaith Council and Anti-Racism Committee,’” Boyer said.

Boyer’s comments to Fox News Digital came after he punched back at critics at the city’s June 24th Summit Common Council Meeting during their public comment session.

“This was a momentous occasion and I believe it is important to address the community at this event. However, I feel it crucial to inform all the residents about some troubling events that occurred leading up to the event,” Boyer said during the meeting. 

Summit, New Jersey council member

Jamel Boyer, councilman of Summit, New Jersey, spoke at the city council’s latest Summit Common Council Meeting during a public comment session. (YouTube Screenshot)

At the meeting, he explained during his speech that his colleagues on the city council and city employees were informed by the “Interfaith Council” and the “Anti-Racism Committee” that they did not want him to speak at the Juneteenth event.

“Their reason was … I am a Black Republican, and they did not consider me really Black,” Boyer said at the meeting.

The attendees of Monday’s council meeting laughed in response.

“They disagreed with my policy views so simply because I am a Black man with different opinions and political beliefs,” Boyer said. “Yes, I was deemed not Black by a politically motivated group, most of which, who do not reside in this town.”

JUNETEENTH IS A CELEBRATION OF ETHNIC HARMONY

Juneteenth recognizes June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas discovered they were free after the Civil War. Enslaved African-Americans were informed of their freedom two years after the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth was made into a federal holiday during the first year of President Biden’s administration.

A Juneteenth flag flies on a float during the 45th annual Juneteenth National Independence Day celebrations in Galveston, Texas, on June 15, 2024. Juneteenth falls on June 19 and has often been celebrated on the third Saturday in June, to mark the end of slavery in the US. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)

A Juneteenth flag flies on a float during the 45th annual Juneteenth National Independence Day celebrations in Galveston, Texas, on June 15, 2024. Juneteenth falls on June 19 and has often been celebrated on the third Saturday in June, to mark the end of slavery in the US. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)

Boyer suggested the controversy over his speaking invitation undermines the very meaning of Juneteenth.

“A group of people saying the reason is they don’t consider me as [sic] Black. That is disgusting. It is outright disrespectful,” he told council members on Monday. “We cannot be hypocrites. If Black people are truly free, we can have different opinions without being called ‘not Black.'”

Boyer doubled down to Fox News Digital that his critics said that he did not represent other Black residents in Summit.

“I mean, I grew up in this town. Of course, I represent the Black people in this town. I don’t understand what you’re saying, by the way, some of the people that didn’t want me to speak. They’re not from this town. So they don’t know. They didn’t go to school here. I went to elementary school here, middle school, high school. My wife’s family has been here for 100 years,” he added. 

“I don’t understand what you’re talking about. It could only be because of what I represent, and I represent a different thought.”

In the interview with Fox News Digital, Boyer took issue with other council members being asked to speak at the event after it was initially suggested that he would be the only speaker. But, Rev. Vernon Williams, a member of the Juneteenth Planning Committee, pushed back, saying that the committee decided to follow a similar format as last year’s event–Not to undermine Boyer.

WHAT IS JUNETEENTH? THE HISTORY BEHIND THE OLDEST COMMEMORATION OF THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE US

The Summit Interfaith Council released a statement that Boyer “mistakenly” named them a participant in the Juneteenth Planning Committee. The president of the Interfaith Council sat on the Juneteenth Planning Committee, but not in the capacity of representing the Interfaith Council.

According to a local source, Williams, a member of the Interfaith Council and its Anti-Racism Committee, sat on the Juneteenth Planning Committee “as a representative of Fountain Baptist Church.” 

Williams told TAPinto Summit, “Councilman Boyer wishes to believe the reason he was not chosen was because he is not ‘Black enough’ or that he is a Black Republican. No one has ever said that to him or anyone on the Council about him. That comment from Councilman Boyer is purely sensational and a flat out lie.”

“At no time before June 18th, does anyone on the committee ever remember Councilman Boyer being brought up as a speaker during the event. Additionally, no one on the committee ever spoke to Councilman Boyer about speaking.”

The Summit Interfaith Council added that there were no formal comments about Boyer’s invitation to speak.

“To be clear, no vote or discussion occurred since we did not sponsor the event or join the Planning Committee.”

The city’s chief communications officer, Amy Cairns, confirmed to Fox News Digital that Boyer had received criticism for being invited to speak at the event without specifying whom in particular.

New Jersey councilman

Summit, New Jersey Councilman Jamel Boyer speaks at the city’s 2024 Juneteenth celebration. (Photo credit: City of Summit NJ)

Reacting to Boyer’s comments at the Summit city council meeting, Council President Lisa Allen said that Boyer “should have been encouraged to speak, not discouraged.”

“Please know that going forward we will make certain that any celebration the City of Summit organizes will transcend politics, and prioritize inclusion for everyone,” Allen said.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Summit Mayor Elizabeth Fagan said that she was impressed with Boyer’s “bravery.”

“I am very impressed with Councilman Jamel Boyer’s bravery last night as he spoke not only about his own personal hurt, but also the fact that our whole community loses when politics supersede integrity and common sense,” Boyer said. “Clearly, I am not alone in my thoughts, as the entire chamber burst into a standing ovation when Mr. Boyer finished speaking. I firmly believe the Juneteenth Committee missed a wonderful opportunity to highlight Summit’s first-ever elected Black-American male councilmember at Friday evening’s celebration.”