The mayor of Luray, Barry Presgraves, reportedly claimed that his comment, which stated “Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick,” was funny.
Calls for his resignation were made by members of the town council, but Presgraves told Page Valley News: “Hell no, I’m not resigning. The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve.”
“I had no idea people would react the way they did,” he added. “If I had a chance to do it over, I wouldn’t do it. You can apologize all you want, but no one will believe it.”
He later posted an apology of sorts on his Facebook page, writing: “sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings lesson learned. It was not my intent to hurt anyone. I took it to be humorous. Sorry!”
Both posts are no longer visible on Facebook.
In June, Quaker Oats announced that it will be changing the name and logo of the “Aunt Jemima” brand of pancake mix and syrup, which has been long criticized for racial stereotyping.
Biden promised to pick a woman as his 2020 election running mate, and several woman of color are reportedly being considered for the position. Biden is expected to make an official announcement about his choice next week.
Council Member Leah Pence posted an open letter on her Facebook page, writing: “Barry — I am writing to strongly urge you to resign over a racist comment you made on Facebook. The comment you posted has a type of humor that (has) not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours.”
Speaking to WHSV, council member Ron Vickers said: “Barry does not speak for the council and does not speak for me.”
Speaking to CNN, council member Jerry Schiro said: “All racial comments are inappropriate.”
“Given the heighten(ed) sensitivity to racism in our country today, they are particularly concerning and divisive when made by elected officials,” he added.
The Valley Region Caucus of the Virginia Young Democrats made a statement about Presgraves’ post, calling it “disgusting” and “unacceptable.”
The Town of Luray posted a statement on its website on Monday condemning racism; and added it was “committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity.”
The statement added: the town council will “discuss the events leading to this statement at their August 10th meeting.”
Sources: America Now