People are calling for the resignation of a Virginia mayor after he said Joe Biden “just announced Aunt Jemima” as his Vice President.
AmeriKKKa is showing its ugly face again, this time in Luray, Virginia, Mayor Barry Presgraves. Last weekend, Presgraves took to his Facebook page and made a racist comment, which sparked widespread backlash and calls for his resignation. He took the comment down that same weekend.
According to recent census data, the city of Luray consists of less than 5,000 people, with the majority of them being white. Black people make up only four percent of the city.
During a city council meeting Monday night, Presgraves apologized for his racist comments. “I want to make this very clear to everyone with absolutely no qualifications,” said Presgraves. “I understand what I posted on social media was wrong, offensive, and unbecoming.” He added in his prepared statement that his words don’t reflect what’s in his heart.
“I also want to make a direct apology to all people of color and women. 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,” said Presgraves. “From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry and humbly ask for your forgiveness and your grace.”
Sixty-nine-year-old Barbara Veney, a longtime Luray resident, stated directly to Presgraves that his words were alarming and hurtful. She said that she was taught that “what comes out the mouth can hurt, and you have to be careful what you speak because words do hurt,” she said. “We need somebody with positive thinking that will shape this community. No more dividing,” she added. “In order for us to move on … I’m asking you today, Mr. Mayor, that you step down in love — because I love you — and do the right thing.”
Councilmember Leah Pence sent Presgraves an email on Monday, urging him to step down. Pence told Presgraves that his comment “has a type of humor that has not been appropriate or funny” in any lifetime. “While a resignation alone will not resolve the systemic subliminal racism that plagues our community, your resignation is imperative as we work towards ending racism in our community,” Pence wrote in the email. She said that Presgraves is responsible for his own actions.
The town council voted 5-1 to censure Presgraves over “his choice of harmful words posted on social media.” “While the town council affirms the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S Constitution, as elected officials, we are held to a higher standard within our communities,” the council said. “Statements by public officials have a powerful impact on the community.” They added: “Your apology is a step towards reconciliation with our citizens; however, damage both internal and external to our community remains.”