An elected representative, who runs a charming town in northern Virginia, had no choice but to say sorry for making fun of the Democratic Party’s pick for vice president.
Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves has been strongly criticized for what was intended to be a humorous spin on the presidential candidate Joe Biden’s decision to choose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his vice president, if the Democrats win the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 3.
“Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick,” the mayor said on his personal Facebook page, on Aug. 1.
Even though Harris does not actually bear much resemblance to the Quaker Oats Company’s black corporate model Councillor Leah Pence, who supports anti-police protest movements, took advantage of the opportunity to demand that Presgraves resigns as mayor.
“I am writing to strongly urge you to resign over a racist comment you made on Facebook,” she said on Facebook. “Your resignation is imperative as we work toward ending racism in our community … your recent actions have caused me and many citizens to lose faith and confidence in your capacity to effectively and justly serve as mayor of the Town of Luray.”
After just four days of political and personal attacks, Presgraves backflipped on his remarks and apologized for any distress he may have caused.
“I am sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings,” he said on Facebook. “Lesson learned, it was not my intent to hurt anyone. I took it to be humorous, sorry.”
Despite his attempt to reconcile with residents and Pence the mayor continued to receive personal and political attacks, prompting him to make a formal apology at a Luray Town Council meeting.
“I want to make this very clear to everyone with absolutely no qualifications, I understand what I posted to social media was wrong, offensive and unbecoming, it does not reflect what is in my heart,” he said in a video shared on YouTube.
Presgraves continued to show remorse for anyone who felt offended by his comments and promised there would not be a repeat.
“I also want to make a direct apology to all people of color and women,” he said. “Passing off demeaning and worn out racial stereotypes as humor is not 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.”
Despite the lengthy apology several residents and Pence used question time to continue to verbally attack the mayor, prompting one Trump supporter in the audience to accuse Pence of trying to advance her political career by ousting the incumbent mayor.
“I do not believe what Mr. Presgraves said was racist at all, there is nothing in his background that would suggest that to me,” Trump 2020 campaign elected national delegate Dan Dean-Petersen said in the video. “This is nothing but manufactured outrage by Ms. Pence in order to get a political advantage and stoke the divisive fires in our own community–we do not need any of that.”