Alabama's politics came to the forefront of the United States' national conversation in November 2017, after a 9 November 2017 Washington Post investigation reported that former judge Roy Moore was accused of improper sexual contact with underage girls earlier in his career.
Moore remained in headlines due to the allegations, as well as his decision not to drop out of the 2017 Senate special election in Alabama. Interest into Moore rose again on 7 December 2017, when Eric Columbus (who served in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security during the Obama administration) tweeted a snippet of a Los Angeles Times article published on 21 September 2017:
Can't make this up -- Roy Moore said in September that the last time America was great was when we had slavery. (h/t @reckonalabama)https://t.co/NMF4BCQ6ZS pic.twitter.com/XbpPtdifuS
— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) December 7, 2017
The article noted in part:
At Moore’s [17 September 2017] Florence rally, the former judge outlined all the wrongs he sees in Washington and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” He warned of “the awful calamity of abortion and sodomy and perverse behavior and murders and shootings and road rage” as “a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins.”
In response to a question from one of the only African Americans in the audience — who asked when Moore thought America was last "great" — Moore acknowledged the nation’s history of racial divisions, but said: “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”
At the same event, Moore referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as “reds and yellows[."]
More context for the remarks in Alabama news outlet AL.com's reporting of a separate controversy, which said that he was "comparing divisions in the country from before the Civil War to today's political climate":
"There's time in our history where we did. Once such time was [after] war between the states" Moore said. "Brother against brother, North against South, party against party. What's changed? Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What's going to unite us? What's going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It's going to be God."
One day later, Moore responded to controversy over the "reds and yellows" remark via Twitter:
Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel. (1/2)
— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) September 18, 2017
We found a video published to YouTube on 18 September 2017, in which Moore's "reds and yellows" comment was captured. Although the "slavery" portion was not in the video, the complete context of his speech about divisions was clearer:
Alabama's special election is scheduled for 12 December 2017.