A USA Today fact check ruled that the kente cloth sashes Democratic lawmakers wore to honor George Floyd “were historically worn by [the] empire involved in West African slave trade.”
A group of Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, knelt in the Capitol building last week for nearly nine minutes, the amount of time then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to Floyd’s neck before he died. At the time, the Democratic lawmakers wore kente cloths, a move that was panned by critics as “virtue-signaling.”
USA Today issued a fact check Tuesday on a Facebook post that claimed, “The Democrats wore kente scarfs and knelt down for their photo op. So check this out, Kente cloth was worn by the Ashanti. It’s made of silk so the affluent wore it. The Ashanti were also known as slave owners and traders. Huh? … This makes me wonder why they chose to wear this particular tribe’s garb.”
The outlet labeled the claim that the “kente scarves worn by Democrats were historically worn by rich African slave owners and traders” as true. The report noted that kente cloth has a rich history beyond the slave trade, but the cloth from Ghana and Togo was also worn and named by the Asante kingdom’s first leader, Asantehene Osei Tutu.