Nine Republican congressmen voted Tuesday against naming a North Carolina post office branch after Maya Angelou, with one lawmaker calling the award-winning poet “a communist sympathizer.”
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) said in a statement to NBC News that he believes the civil rights activist was “a communist sympathizer.”
“Congressman Harris voted against the Maya Angelou post office naming because she was a communist sympathizer,” the statement read. “His parents escaped communism and he feels that he cannot vote to name a post office in the United States in honor of someone who supported the communist Castro revolution in Cuba.”
The other lawmakers who voted nay were Mo Brooks (R-AL), Ken Buck (R-CO), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Glen Grothman (R-WI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Alex Mooney (R-WV) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS), according to the Huffington Post.
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) voted “present” and 52 members didn’t vote.
Despite the dissenting votes, the branch naming passed with 371 votes.
NBC News reported the vote on naming the North Carolina post office after Angelou was preceded by a unanimous vote to rename another post office branch in California.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) told NBC that such votes are “one of the most benign and bipartisan duties” performed by the House.
“That’s why I was shocked today as nine Republicans voted against naming a post office after Maya Angelou, indisputably one of our country’s greatest poets, authors and civil rights activists,” Israel said in a statement. “The fact that these nine Members would cast a no vote shows a blatant disrespect and only adds to the damaging actions they’ve taken this year to reverse progress from long and hard fought civil rights battles.”