A mayor of a small town in Virginia has refused growing calls to resign over a racist Facebook post concerning a conjectural Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s potential running mate in the 2020 election.
Barry Presgraves, the mayor of Luray, some 60 miles north of Charlottesville, said he thought the post which allegedly read “Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick” ― was “funny,” per multiple media outlets.
“Hell no, I’m not resigning,” Presgraves told Page Valley News. “The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve.”
“I had no idea people would react the way they did,” the mayor added, per the publication. “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.”
Presgraves did drop an apology post on Facebook, reported WHSV, it read: “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 now not appearing on Facebook.
Presgraves did not quickly respond to HuffPost’s request for more comment.
With his initial post, Presgraves seemed to reference Quaker Foods’ decision in June to change the name and logo of its “Aunt Jemima” brand of syrup and pancake mix, which has long been attacked for its racist stereotyping.
It also applied to Biden’s word of honor to choose a woman as his running mate in the 2020 election. Several women of color are allegedly under consideration for the part of the vice-presidential candidate that Biden is expected to announce next week.
Presgraves faced calls to step down from fellow council members.
“Barry — I am writing to strongly urge you to resign over a racist comment you made on Facebook,” Luray councilmember Leah Pence wrote in an open letter posted on her Facebook page, below. “The comment you posted has a type of humor that (has) not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours.”
“Barry does not speak for the council and does not speak for me,” council member Ron Vickers told WHSV.
Council member Jerry Schiro told CNN that “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,” Schiro added in a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement that has gained traction since the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
The Valley Region Caucus of the Virginia Young Democrats referred Presgraves’ post as “disgusting” and “unacceptable.”
The Town of Luray disapproved racism and said it was “committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity” in a statement dropped on its website Monday.
The Town Council will “discuss the events leading to this statement at their August 10th meeting,” it added.