Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, was joined by United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral
Thad Allen in addressing the student body, faculty, and staff of the Coast Guard Academy in response to the placement of nooses in the bag of a student and the office of an officer conducting diversity training (copy of speech attached).
“These cadets are a group of extraordinary young men and women who represent the very best of the best,” Congressman Cummings said. “However, it is important for them to understand that a service as noble as the United States Coast Guard has no place for hatred and disrespect for others, and they will only be as strong as their weakest link.”
The trip to the Academy came following reports a noose was found in the bag of an African-American student in July, and that another was found in August in the office of a white female officer conducting diversity training in response to the first incident. Upon learning of the nooses last week, Congressman Cummings called upon Admiral Allen to initiate a full criminal investigation and to address the entire student body.
“Honor plays an extremely important role service-wide in the Coast Guard, and I wanted to make it clear that these racist, threatening acts were dishonorable. I also wanted these cadets to understand that they themselves should not tolerate one among them who will bring dishonor to the service,” Congressman Cummings said. “I knew this was a message that needed to come from the very top, so I called upon Admiral Allen, who reacted immediately—as I knew he would.”
Following his speech, Congressman Cummings will be touring the Academy as well as dining with cadets.
“The Coast Guard is a great service, best exemplified during Hurricane Katrina. When all other systems broke down and failed, the Coast Guard stood strong, and its members risked their lives to save everyone, not just those whose skin color matched their own,” Congressman Cummings said. “I am confident that our message today resonated with these students, and I have hope that they will ensure that this service remains the shield of freedom it has been for more than 200 years.”