Soon-to-be retired Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) responded to criticism over a controversial joke he made during a commencement speech this weekend referencing the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The joke was aimed at Hubie Jones, a black social activist who was receiving an honorary degree at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth ceremony.
Franks said at the ceremony:
"Hubie, I think you now have a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you…So I hope you'll feel pretty protected by that."
Trayvon was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman on February 26th inside a gated community housing complex.
In a statement explaining the comment, Frank said:
"(I) used the 'hoodie' line to ridicule the notion that a hooded sweatshirt is somehow sinister. I wore a hooded gown in three ceremonies earlier this year, and in my remarks at those events I used the same joke on myself.
On Sunday, I was awarded a medal but not an honorary degree and a hood, so I could not use myself as an example...
The only honorary degree was awarded to my good friend, Hubie Jones, to whom I gave tribute for his fight for social justice. In my remarks, I shamelessly recycled the hoodie joke for the fourth time."
Jones reportedly said he did not think Frank meant any harm by the joke.