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Va mayor faces backlash after social media post compares Biden's running mate choices to 'Aunt Jemima'

1 month 2 weeks 5 days ago Thursday, August 06 2020 Aug 6, 2020 August 06, 2020 8:09 AM August 06, 2020 in News
Source: CNN
Barry Presgraves, Mayor of Luray

LURAY, Virginia - The mayor of a small town in Virginia is in hot water after a post that insulted several nationally recognized Black female politicians showed up on his Facebook page.

CNN reports that Barry Presgraves, the mayor of Luray, featured the following post on his Facebook page: "Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick."

The post was deleted after people on social media, including members of the Luray town council, pointed out that it was blatantly racist.

One council member called the mayor's words "inappropriate," another urged him to offer a public apology, and yet another suggested he resign.

The post appears to poke fun at former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, as he narrows down his choice for running mate. Several of Biden's contenders are Black women, and the post refers to these politicians as 'Aunt Jemima' replicas.

The post was likely meant as a joke, but at a time when African Americans are bringing attention to the historical mistreatment of Blacks and urging those in positions of power to treat people of color as equals, few are willing to condone racially insensitive humor on social media.

In fact, Luray town councilman Joey Sours said he'd spoken to the mayor and encouraged him to apologize publicly.

"The comments, which I find to be hurtful, divisive and potentially damaging to our community, do not in any way reflect my thoughts, feelings or values," Sours said in a statement.

The town of Luray also acknowledged the incident in a Facebook post, citing its personnel policies manual.
"We believe that our employees and every person in our community deserves fair and just treatment. The many voices of our community welcome all to Luray," the Facebook post reads. "The Town of Luray rejects racism and is committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity."

Though Councilman Sours condemned the statement posted to Presgraves' Facebook page, he urged the community to avoid judging the mayor too harshly, saying, "I encourage everyone in our community and the country at large -- while condemning harmful words or actions is justified, we must not make the mistake of immediately condemning the individual."

Councilman Sours also said the town council was considering calling a special meeting to discuss the issue before its regularly scheduled one on August 10.

That said, the council does not have the power to impeach the mayor, according to Sours.
A recall referendum would likewise be pointless due to the timing of elections coinciding with the date Presgraves is set to leave office, Sours added.
Presgraves, who has been Luray's mayor for more than a decade, is reportedly not running for re-election this fall.

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