Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson drew the ire of many on Monday when he referred to slaves as "immigrants" while giving a speech.
Carson, a former brain surgeon and GOP presidential candidate, made the comment while speaking to HUD employees. Video of his speech was quickly posted to social media.
"That's what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity," Carson said in his speech. "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."
Samuel L. Jackson was among those who expressed bafflement over the comment.
"OK!! Ben Carson....I can't! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom," the Avengers actor tweeted.
The official NAACP account tweeted the video along with "Immigrants???"
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect also did not mince words.
"WE CONDEMN REMARKS of #BenCarson today that slaves are "immigrants." @WhiteHouse we say #BlackLivesMatter and so should you," the center tweeted.
As of 1:30 p.m., the White House had yet to address the controversy.
That evening, Carson responded to the backlash in a Facebook post.
"The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences. Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders," he writes in the post. "The two experiences should never be intertwined, nor forgotten, as we demand the necessary progress towards an America that's inclusive and provides access to equal opportunity for all."
Their dream? Not be kidnapped, tortured, raped, forced to mate, work for another's gain, torn from family + culture. pic.twitter.com/lvpqUMGE2w
- Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 6, 2017
Ben Carson just referred to *slaves* as "immigrants"
"There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships..." pic.twitter.com/WkFrm3dYCB- Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) March 6, 2017
OK!! Ben Carson....I can't! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom
- Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) March 6, 2017
- NAACP (@NAACP) March 6, 2017
WE CONDEMN REMARKS of #BenCarson today that slaves are "immigrants." @WhiteHouse we say #BlackLivesMatter and so should you. pic.twitter.com/VuclzYh5Rn
- AnneFrankCenter(US) (@AnneFrankCenter) March 6, 2017
This can't be real. Slaves were not & are not immigrants. 2017. https://t.co/8CuUvnR2Mf
- Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 6, 2017
Dangerous and irresponsible to grossly embellish the violent centuries of enslavement of African people in America. https://t.co/KOe0fS7rWT
- Be A King (@BerniceKing) March 6, 2017
Ben Carson..please read or watch Roots, most immigrants come here VOLUNTARILY,cant't really say the same about the slaves..they were stolen
- Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) March 6, 2017
I feel like we should check on the folks #BenCarson did brain surgery on and make sure they're not mooing and chirping and stuff.
- Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) March 6, 2017
7:15 p.m. Updated to include Carson's response.