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Ben Carson Called African-American Slaves ‘Immigrants’ During a Speech

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New Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is facing backlash after referring to African-American slaves as immigrants in his first address to the agency’s staff.

“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,” Carson said during his remarks, according to the Washington Post. 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.”

Carson immediately drew condemnation on social media from several prominent figures and organizations, including the NAACP.

As of late afternoon, Carson’s name was at the top of Twitter’s trending chart.

Carson ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary before dropping out in March 2016. Shortly after, he endorsed his formal rival, and became a campaign surrogate.

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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com