In an event hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday, House minority whip Steny Hoyer attempted to appeal to his audience, a gathering of African CEOs who were in the nation’s capital for the U.S.-Africa Summit.
To do so, the Maryland Democrat, who is white, offered up a vignette from his childhood.
“I told you I was going to tell you a funny little story,” Hoyer reminded the crowd. “I was six years old. It was summer, and we were at the beach,” he described.
A mother of one of Hoyer’s friends came up to his mother that day and asked her, “What were you doing in Africa when Steny was born?”
“My mother looked at the other mother quizzically and said, ‘What do you mean, what was I doing in Africa?’” Hoyer recalled.
“She said, ‘Well Steny said he was born in Africa.’”
“My mother looked at the other mother,” Hoyer said,
“No, he’s a big Tarzan fan, he just pretends he was born in Africa,” Hoyer chuckled as he recalled his mother saying.
“Actually, I was born just a little outside Charlie Rangel’s district in Harlem, in Manhattan. And I am pleased to be here with all of you.”
Rangel, who attended Wednesday’s event, is a long-serving Democrat member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The awkward childhood story was not the only foot-in-the-mouth moment for Hoyer during that speech. When he first took the podium to address the crowd, the Democratic Whip re-assured the crowd, saying “I do not whip people.” (RELATED: Top Democrat’s Joke To African Leaders: ‘I Do Not Whip People’)
The U.S.-African Summit brought together leaders from around 50 African nations as well as business leaders to discuss ways to spur investment and growth in the continent’s countries.