WATCH: Republican Virginia Mayor Apologizes for Racist ‘Aunt Jemima’ Remark About Kamala Harris, Gets Publicly Dragged
Republican Mayor Barry Presgraves apologized publicly for a Facebook post that compared Senator Kamala Harris to recently-retired advertising icon and racial stereotype Aunt Jemima.
Mayor Presgraves of Luray, Virginia made the posting on Facebook — which read “Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick.” — prior to former Vice President Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Harris as the first Black woman to run as a major party VP candidate in U.S. history.
The Mayors post: pic.twitter.com/2Pn1b7x0Ey
— VAYD Valley Region Caucus (@VAYDValley) August 3, 2020
Presgraves deleted the post, and amid calls for his resignation, he apologized publicly at a Luray Town Council meeting this week.
In a prepared statement, Luray said “I understand what I posted on social media was wrong, offensive, and unbecoming. It does not reflect what is in my heart.”
“I also want to make a direct apology to all people of color and women,” he continued. “Passing off demeaning and worn out racial stereotypes as humor isn’t funny. I now fully understand how hurtful it is, and I can and will do better, and we can all do better. We must. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry and humbly ask for your forgiveness and your grace.”
Presgraves had a few defenders — many more residents, Black and white alike, followed the apology by taking turns calling for him to resign — but one of those defenders, an older white man, may not have helped much when he said he didn’t think Presgraves was racist, then unintentionally elicited laughs by adding “I mean no disrespect for Black people in the community, for you people…”
Another of Presgraves’ defenders was MAGA-hatted “Damn” Dean Peterson, who introduced himself as “an elected national delegate to elect President Donald Trump to a second term of office.”
His defense of Presgraves was best summed up when he said that “to assume that everyone who would see that post would think it’s racist is racist within itself,” but he threw in a lot of extra stuff about evil fascist socialism for good measure, and generated some applause from a few of the residents.
Resident Michelle Billings, who organized a protest march against Presgraves, called the man out during the meeting, and delivered a blistering rebuke of the mayor. She talked about the Black women who were then still under consideration as Biden’s running mate, and said they had to “come up through the ranks and had to prove themselves in the so-called man’s world, and being Black, and again they continue and continue and continue to be raped verbally by comments like you made.”
“Luray has a black eye right now. You did that. TKO, boom, you knocked us out. You put us on the map,” Billings said, then added “It’s your time, you got to go.”
At the end of the meeting, the town council voted to pass a statement of censure, with Councilmember Leah Pence — who has called for the mayor’s resignation and participated in the protest — dissenting because the statement did not specifically identify Presgrave’s posting as racist and sexist.
Watch the apology above via the Town of Luray.
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