Warnock facing growing scrutiny for church ties to anti-Semitic, black supremacist academic

Leonard Jeffries "preaches Jew-hatred like a religion," is "central member" of Afrocentrism movement's "extreme" wing, which is "Europhobic and anti-Semitic, as well as racist, anti-Arab and anti-Catholic," according to American Jewish Committee report.

Updated: November 30, 2022 - 11:15pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

With the Georgia Senate runoff set for Dec. 6, Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is facing growing scrutiny for his association with Leonard Jeffries, the controversial academic notorious for his fringe Afrocentrist theories and long trail of anti-Semitic diatribes.

Warnock served as the assistant pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City for four years under Rev. Calvin O. Butts. Before that, he was the youth pastor at that church for six years. 

The church hosted Jeffries — uncle of newly elected House Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffrieas — as a speaker at least three times from 1991 to 1998 during Warnock's tenure there, Fox News reported Tuesday.

Jeffries first spoke at the church in October 1991, while he was fighting to keep his position as chairman of the black studies department at City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) after a succession of anti-Semitic and racist remarks, including blaming Jewish people for the transatlantic slave trade and claiming that black people are superior to white people due to higher levels of melanin.

The CUNY Board of Trustees voted to replace Jefferies as department head in 1992, a decsion that was ultimately upheld in court in 1995 after years of seesawing legal skirmishing. 

In his first appearance at the church, Leonard addressed allegations by a student reporter with The Harvard Crimson that he'd called the campus publication a "Jewish newspaper" and threatened the reporter's life during an interview. Jefferies reportedly told the congregation that he'd sat for the interview with the Crimson to discuss multicultural education issues, not the anti-Semitism controversy, and didn't deny the reporter's allegations.

Warnock began working at Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1991 after graduating from Morehouse College earlier that same year, but it is unclear whether he was already employed there by the time of Leonard’s speech in October. Just the News has reached out to Warnock's office for clarification but has not heard back. 

That same year the American Jewish Committee released "Dr. Jeffries and the Anti-Semitic Branch of the Afrocentrism Movement," a report covering Jefferies' long track record as a "central member" of the "extreme" wing of the Afrocentrism movement, a faction the report defines as "Europhobic and anti-Semitic, as well as racist, anti-Arab and anti-Catholic."

According to the report, written by Kenneth S. Stern, Jefferies "preaches Jew-hatred like a religion" and has copied a lot of his anti-Semitism from Rev. Louis Farrakhan.  

"Dr. Jeffries points to a real problem when he speaks about the stereotypes of African Americans produced in Hollywood," Stern acknowleged. "But he has copied the anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan, Gerald K. Smith and Legrand Clegg. Rather than point to the cultural and political aspects of racism in 20th century American society, he prefers a conspiracy theory," namely "'the Jews control the media' canard" derived from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the notorious anti-Semitic forgery outlining a purported Jewish plot to achieve world domination.

In 2017, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) listed Jeffries among the anti-Semitic speakers invited in "disturbing numbers" to appear on college campuses, citing multiple examples of anti-Semitic statements.

"Jeffries exploded onto the public scene in August 1991, when the New York Post published an account of a vitriolic anti-Semitic and racist speech he made on July 20 at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany, New York," recounted the ADL report. "Jeffries asserted that 'rich Jews' controlled the Black slave trade, and that Hollywood was the site of a Jewish-dominated conspiracy to systematically denigrate Blacks. He called the then-Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch the 'ultimate, supreme, sophisticated, debonair racist' and a 'Texas Jew.'" 

Democratic New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was elected Wednesday to replace Nancy Pelosi as the top House Democrat. In an interview in 2013 with the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Jefferies said that he is close with his uncle but does not support his theories.

"Chairman Jeffries has consistently and forcefully spoken out against anti-Semitism throughout his career," Jeffries' office said to Just the News in an email. "His on the record comments made to the Wall Street Journal speak for themselves."