Virginia mayor Barry Presgraves is under pressure to resign after a post he made on his Facebook page last weekend, saying that Joe Biden had “just announced Aunt Jemima” as his running mate. Although Presgraves made this comment before Biden had officially announced Kamala Harris as his running mate, it was no secret that the Democratic Presidential candidate was considering several Black women for the role. Of all the racist references to make, this man chose a caricature of a Black mammy that is so notoriously racist that after 130 years, Quaker Oats decided to change the name and the logo of the “Aunt Jemima” products in June of this year.
Luray, Virginia is a small town about 90 miles west of Washington, D.C. with a population of less than 5,000. Although the town is majority white, 40% of the residents are Black, according to the most recent census data.
Mayor Presgraves apologized for his comment at a town council meeting on Monday night.
“I want to make this very clear to everyone with absolutely no qualifications,” Presgraves said. “I understand what I posted on social media was wrong, offensive and unbecoming.”
“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,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. “I now fully understand how hurtful it is and I can and will do better and we can all do better. We must.”
Well, someone’s trying to save their career! Although it’s impossible to say for certain whether Presgraves wrote his own remarks, I’m going to make an educated guess and say that I hope the staffer who wrote that statement gets a raise.
In the wake of the mayor’s comments, members of the town council voted 5-1 to censure him, and one council member even emailed Presgraves directly asking him to resign. But when asked by the Page Valley News, a local paper, if he would consider stepping down, Presgraves responded:
“Hell no, I’m not resigning,” he told the newspaper. “The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve.”