Loose Lips

McDuffie Preaches Unity, Thanks HTJ

New Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie pledged to be a uniter and not a divider at a breakfast held in his honor this morning at Israel Baptist Church. No kidding! His speech included a shout-out to his disgraced predecessor, Harry Thomas Jr.

“I’m going to work hard to bridge the gaps between communities that have felt left out." said McDuffie, who was sworn in last week after easily winning a special election to replace the prison-bound Thomas. "I’m going to work hard to make that connection between neighborhoods who may look at each other a little differently now. But in my eyes they have a lot more in common than they think. That’s part of my role, part of my role to be a facilitator.”

Demonstrating those facilitation skills, McDuffie worked his thank-you to the unmentionable HTJ into a spiel about some rather more popular Ward 5 political figures: The convicted ex-councilmember's mom and dad. “There’s another mother I’d like to thank aside from my own and that is mother Romaine Thomas," McDuffie said. "I think it is vitally important that as we move forward in Ward 5 and usher in this new day that we not forget the people who contributed to making Ward 5 the beautiful place it is to live, work, and raise a family. And without a doubt Harry Thomas Sr., Mrs. Romaine Thomas, and Harry Thomas Jr. all played a role in that progress. I want to recognize them for that.”

When asked about the shout-out to Thomas, McDuffie said: “The acknowledgement was more about the family, not any individual.” He cited Harry Thomas Sr.’s own years as Councilmember and Romaine Thomas’ work in education.

Mayor Vince Gray was at the breakfast and was still dodging questions about the recent guilty pleas of two top campaign aides in l'affaire Sulaimon.

“Not going to talk about that. I’m here for this event,” Gray said. He did, however, have some advice for McDuffie saying the newly minted councilmember should: "Know what his priorities are, and communicate those priorities.”

Councilmember Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown was slated to speak at the breakfast, too, but wasn’t in attendance.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Jes sayin’

    HTJ is hardly unmentionable, as McDuffie mentioned him, and did so in a classy way. Props to someone who wants to heal and move on.

    The new councilmember seems be a bright and decent fellow. If that's the case, he's gonna be mighty lonely on DC Council.

  • Politicsasusual

    HTJ shout out? Gray in attendance? I am speechless once again in reference to any topic involving DC politician's.

  • KeepinItReal

    Ut.Oh. He mentioned HTJ and A. Satanman is on a warpath.

  • mmhh

    Really bad sign that he mentioned Thomas.

  • Throw The Book

    .... gotta start off running out the gates, heal those who yearn for a respectable ward then talk about the developments and what you think should be happening in your administration.

    A guy paying his respects is cool, but to bring the image back into peoples minds about HTJ doesnt sit well with most.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    HTJ was an honorable man with good intentions at one time. OK by me that he mentioned him.

    Now let McDuffie get down to business. And, hopefully never mention HTJ again.

  • capitol hill

    How ridiculous that he would mention the Thomas family at all. Sounds like another crook in the making. Mother Romaine Thomas? Give me a break. She was just a Thomas who managed not to get caught.

  • Ward 5

    McDuffie is full of BS….. His true Colors will soon be revealed. He worked Gray’s Deputy Mayor of Public Safety; prior to that, he worked for Orange as well as Eleanor Holmes Norton ?? McDuffie is a pawn that Gray & Co. controls. McDuffie will soon be another disgraced DC politician in the near future.

  • DCres

    Another Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown

  • Julius

    A good day for Ward 5 and DC as we redefine "Politician". Council member McDuffie, not a child of the Civil Rights movement but a grand-child of that movement; the lawyers, the doctors, the artists, the embodiment of being on the path of realizing and living the American dream. Kenyan has certainly chosen the better of "the two paths in the woods..."

  • Ward 5 res

    So now that We got all the Hunter sore loser comments out the way can we PLEASE move on now. At least give the man two months. Good grief!

  • Help Us

    Those who profess Jesus better take heed to your lack of compassion. God calls us to a higher place. HTJ will soon serve time for what he has done wrong, but understand that his wrongdoing does'nt erase the good he has done. And, yes, he has done some good things for the ward and the residents. My God, CMKM is obligated by his proffession as a Christian to honor the good in everything and everyone. This does not in anyway condone HTJ's actions or attempt to coddle him. Come on folks, I pray that you all will never do anything wrong. If you ever fall short, surely you will be hopeful for mercy, grace, and compassion. Try seeing the good in everything, it works.

  • Rob

    Harry Thomas Sr. as Ward 5 Councilmember, gave opportunities to many young people in Ward 5 who have gone on to live their lives as productive citizens. Romaine Thomas, through her role as an educator and community activist, has contributed significantly to bettering the lives of people in her community and throughout the city. Harry Jr., before falling from grace, was an active member of the community mentoring and encouraging kids to do the right thing. What he did was reprehensible and he is paying the price. Council Member McDuffie was right to acknowledge their contributions to Ward 5 and through his humility shows us that he is taking the right path to make Ward 5 a better place. Individuals (posters) who use these forums to take cheap shots at people who deserve better only reinforce their status as being idiots.

  • LOL

    I think it was smart to toss the name out at a unity breakfast. Yep Tommy was a crook. But, if we are talking about moving the ward forward, we cannot act as if the family didn't exist. Just as they did bad, they did good.

    It's okay that the Hunter people are still mad. Their candidate didn't win and they thought he was best for the ward. But their action in anger don't do anything to improve the image of Mr. Hunter.

  • Dog-House Worthy

    The Thomas' are/were political animals through and through. It's not about right vs. wrong, or even good vs. evil in their minds. It is ALWAYS about getting the most votes, saying and looking the "right" way (even when they are purposely acting stupidly outside of the public view), staying in power, and getting a little "sumem-sumem" along the way.
    Hopefully, McDuffie can change the trend.

  • N.E. John

    I had nothing but praise for Mr. McDuffie, until now. Do not speak in reverential tones with respect to that fukking criminal Harry Thomas Jr! He is scum!

  • H Street Landlord

    @Rob "before falling from grace..."

    Let's not sugarcoat it here or act like it was an accident. He actively planned to steal before he even was sworn in. He then ruthlessly stole from the youth and repeatedly lied about it (for years!). He accused the folks who brought up the possibility as liars. Haven't seen him apologize to them. He continued to lie even after signing an agreement to repay the stolen funds. He lied up until the day he plead guilty.

  • Rob

    @H Street Landlord, what part of "What he did was reprehensible and he is paying the price.." did you not understand? I'm not sugarcoating it or offering any excuses for what he (Harry Thomas Jr.) did. However, before he embarked on the wrong path, he was very active working with the children in the Ward 5 community and in encouraging many young people to continue with their education.

  • Ward 5 Resident

    I had the pleasure of attending the Unity Breakfast and found Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie's speech very appropriate and uplifting for me & the residents of Ward 5. CM McDuffie did a beautiful thing by acknowledging Romaine Thomas, Harry Thomas, Sr. and Harry Thomas, Jr. He should be commended for giving them credit for there years of service to Ward 5 and the District of Columbia. It was a unity breakfast and he was trying to bring us together by reflecting on the past, present and future. I think we have a Ward 5 Councilmember that is going to move Ward 5 forward.

  • N.E. John

    No. Things should proceed like the Romans did with Carthage. Drive salt into the very idea of Thomas so that his stature will never ever again grow in these here parts.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Your use of the phrase reminded me of one of my favorite bands....


  • SEis4ME

    The comments criticizing Kenyan shows the sheer idiocy of DC-area residents. Just pure idiots.

  • hah

    Or at least the sheer idiocy of people who post on the WCp site.