Society

Pastor Asks Chris Christie to Apologize for Race Remark

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was asked to apologize after referring to the first black female leader of the state assembly, not by her name, but rather by race and gender.

Christie told an audience at the St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson on Tuesday that an "African-American female speaker of the Assembly" is blocking a vote on a school voucher bill designed to allow qualifying students to leave failing districts and attend class at private and parochial schools.

Christie said he strongly supports the bill, but "we have an African-American female speaker of the Assembly…who refuses to let people vote on this bill."

"Why is it taking a Republican governor from the suburbs to stand up and fight the teachers union and the urban political machine to say, ‘Hey, I want to give your children a shot?’ Let me tell you what that is, that’s the worst kind of discrimination from my perspective,” he said.

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He was apparently referring to Democratic Speaker Sheila Oliver, who says she was “appalled” that he brought race into a discussion on education. Oliver, who represents a district with failing schools, said the state should make a more of an investment in public education.

Thursday, Kenneth Clayton, pastor at St. Luke’s, called for Christie to apologize. "I was and am saddened by the governor's blatant attack (on the speaker),” Clayton said, calling it a missed opportunity to unite the community.

"The words that the governor chose to use in speaking of Oliver, while not even respecting her enough to call her by name, defy his earlier assertion that political leaders, himself included, need to learn to respect all views and work together."

A spokesman for the governor says his words were misinterpreted.

Source: NY Daily News