In his first remarks to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employees Monday, the department's secretary, Ben Carson, referred to slaves as "immigrants."
"That's what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity," Carson said. "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."
In addition to his controversial comment, Carson spent a portion of Monday's speech talking about the human brain.
"Every human being, regardless of their ethnicities, or their background, they have a brain, the human brain," he said. "There is nothing in this universe that even begins to compare with the human brain...I could take the oldest person here, make a little hole right here on the side of the head, and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate and they would be able to recite back to you, verbatim, a book they read 60 years ago."
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who's never held public office before, was confirmed as HUD secretary last week.
According to USA Today, six Democrats and one independent joined 51 Republicans, voting in favor of Carson leading the department.