In a social media post on Monday, Austin Chenge, a Nigerian-American Trump loyalist and GOP gubernatorial candidate for Michigan, said he’s going to cancel Black History Month in the state if elected as he deems it “offensive.”
Instead, he said he’ll introduce what he calls “American History Month.”
A U.S. Army veteran, Chenge immigrated to the United States from Nigeria with his family in 2008, and they subsequently naturalized five years later, according to Michigan Radio. The 35-year-old, who has reportedly never held any public office, describes himself as an entrepreneur and conservative Republican in his Twitter bio.
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In the post which was met with swift backlash, Chenge tweeted: “I will cancel #BlackHistoryMonth in #Michigan. It’s offensive, unfair, maybe illegal… Americans from all backgrounds deserve a revered history. I’ll declare American History Month.”
Chenge, who is the first Republican gubernatorial candidate for Michigan and has set his sights on taking the seat from incumbent Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, is described as being “deeply conservative”, according to Detroit Metro Times.
Among his campaign promises, Chenge says he’ll sever the state’s contract ties with Dominion Voting Systems on his first day in office if elected. A section of pro-Trump supporters has accused the election technology supplier of manipulating the 2020 presidential elections in favor of Joe Biden. Those allegations are, however, unfounded and baseless.
In an interview with Detroit News, Chenge also defended the pro-Trump rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and clashed with law enforcement agents during protests against the 2020 presidential election results. Five people died in the aftermath of the January 6 incident.
“Some of them were overcome by passion, more passion than others and may have acted in a way that they didn’t intend to when they went there,” he said. Asked if it was right for the rioters to besiege the building, he said: “If someone is motivated by passion to do something, it’s more subjective than it is objective.”
Meanwhile, Chenge could become the first Black governor of Michigan if he wins the seat. He, however, told Michigan Radio that being a potential trailblazer isn’t of great significance to him as he feels it causes a divide.
“I don’t actually see myself as a minority, or a Black American, or a Black anything or a minority anything. I just see myself as an American,” he said. “When we start focusing on a person’s gender or race or anything that causes division, we lose our unity as Americans.”
“If I become the governor of Michigan, I’m not going to be the first Black governor of Michigan. I’m going to be just another American governor.”
Take a look at some of the reactions after he announced his intention to scrap Black History Month if elected: