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Mayor slammed for saying Biden's running mate 'Aunt Jemima'

A Virginia mayor is being urged to quit after he joked on social media that Joe Biden had announced Aunt Jemima as his running mate for the November election.

Former Vice President Biden has vowed to select a woman for the position and among the politicians up for the job are many women of color, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, California Rep. Karen Bass, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and former Orlando police chief Congresswoman Val Demings.

As Biden delayed the announcement set for this week, Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves posted on Facebook Sunday: ‘Joe Biden just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick.’

The shocking comparison comes after Quaker Oats announced in June that it will retire the Aunt Jemima brand, saying the company recognizes the character’s origins are ‘based on a racial stereotype.’

Joe Biden

Barry Presgraves

Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves posted on Facebook Sunday: 'Joe Biden just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick'

Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves posted on Facebook Sunday: ‘Joe Biden just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick’

Quaker Oats announced in June that it will retire the brand, saying the company recognizes the character's origins are 'based on a racial stereotype' of mammies

Quaker Oats announced in June that it will retire the brand, saying the company recognizes the character’s origins are ‘based on a racial stereotype’ of mammies

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice

Congresswoman Karen Bass

California Sen. Kamala Harris

Final contenders for the vice presidential spot on the Democratic ticket include former National Security Adviser Susan Rice (left) Congresswoman Karen Bass (center) and California Sen. Kamala Harris (right)

That stereotype is of the ‘mammy’ mascots which is widely considered to be a racist caricature because it depicts an African-American devoted to taking care of a white family. 

The imagery of the servant with exaggerated features and a wide smile helped further spread the false idea that the worker was content in their role.

Presgraves insisted that his social media post doesn’t stem from a belief that white people are superior to black people because he has purchased the Quaker Oats brand for years.

‘I don’t even depict that as racist,’ the 77-year-old continued. ‘I ate Aunt Jemima all my life.’

‘I saw it last week, and I thought it was funny,’ Presgraves said on Monday afternoon. He deleted the post after about 30 minutes following a backlash.

‘I consider it sad that everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon,’ Presgraves told Page Valley News about recent protests over racial equality, petitions to remove Confederate statues and his own comparison of politicians to mammies.

'The many voices of our community welcome all to Luray,' the Facebook post from the town said on Monday. There are 200 black people in the town of 5,000

‘The many voices of our community welcome all to Luray,’ the Facebook post from the town said on Monday. There are 200 black people in the town of 5,000

The statement made no mention of the mayor but invited people to share 'constructive suggestions' to help them accomplish their goal to serve the community. People called for Presgraves to leave the position as mayor

The statement made no mention of the mayor but invited people to share ‘constructive suggestions’ to help them accomplish their goal to serve the community. People called for Presgraves to leave the position as mayor

‘I’m sorry I done it… there was no [bad] intent behind it,’ Presgraves told PVN. ‘I don’t post that often. I had to call someone to get them to tell me how to take it down.’

‘I thought it was humorous. I had no idea people would react the way they did. I think people have gone overboard on this … It’s an election year.’

The mayor called the post a ‘mistake’ but admitted he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

‘If I had a chance to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it. You can apologize all you want, but no one will believe it.’

Despite the mayor’s reluctance to admit any wrongdoing, the Town of Luray tied to reassure people that racism isn’t at its core.

‘The Town of Luray’s Mission Statement included in our Personnel Policies Manual states “It is the mission of every Town employee to deliver quality service to our residents, customers, and visitors in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner in order to promote pride in our community.”

'I don't even depict that as racist,' the 77-year-old mayor said. 'I ate Aunt Jemima all my life.' Older imagery of the mammy stereotype is pictured on the Aunt Jemima brand

‘I don’t even depict that as racist,’ the 77-year-old mayor said. ‘I ate Aunt Jemima all my life.’ Older imagery of the mammy stereotype is pictured on the Aunt Jemima brand








‘We believe that our employees and every person in our community deserves fair and just treatment,’ it said in a Facebook post on Monday.

‘The many voices of our community welcome all to Luray,’ the Facebook post continued. 

‘The Town of Luray rejects racism and is committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity. The Town Council will discuss the events leading to this statement at their August 10th meeting.’

The statement made no mention of the mayor but invited people to share ‘constructive suggestions’ to help them accomplish their goal to serve the community.

There are fewer than 200 African American people in the town of 5,000 residents.

Presgraves said on Sunday that he has no intention of resigning as the people elected him and he had several months to go. He will not be running for another term.

WHO’S ON BIDEN’S VP SHORTLIST

KAMALA HARRIS, 55. CALIFORNIA SENATOR 

Following widespread protests over racial injustice and police brutality, pressure increased on Biden to choose a woman of color. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian parents, fits the bill.

Harris is widely viewed as a favorite to run alongside Biden. She is a battle-tested former presidential candidate and ex-prosecutor who has shown an ability to go on the attack – a valued asset for a running mate. A first-term senator from California, she has already been heavily vetted by the media and rival campaigns.

Harris endorsed Biden after dropping out of the race. But her criticism of him during a Democratic primary debate about his opposition to school busing rankled some people close to Biden, who worry about her ambition and loyalty.

Family life: Married to Douglas Emhoff, with two adult stepchildren. 

SUSAN RICE, 55. FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR 

Rice served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser during his second term, where she worked hand in hand on foreign policy matters with Biden, who was Obama’s vice president.

Prior to that, Rice served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Obama and has advised several other Democratic presidential candidates on national security.

A Black woman, Rice could help drive the African-American vote, the Democratic Party´s most loyal constituency. But she has never run for public office, which means she would be untested on the campaign trail. Her involvement in the controversy over the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, could revive that incident as a campaign issue.

Family life: Married to former ABC News executive Ian Cameron with son and a daughter; son John is a Trump supporter

VAL DEMINGS, 63. FLORIDA CONGRESSWOMAN 

Biden has said Demings, an African-American congresswoman from the election battleground state of Florida, is on the shortlist for running mate.

The former Orlando police chief served as one of the managers of the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against Republican President Donald Trump but has a lower profile among voters nationally.

Demings’ background in law enforcement and her relatively unvetted past as police chief could be viewed as risk factors to a Biden campaign that wants to appeal to progressive voters.

Family life: Married to Jerry Demings, current mayor of Orange County, Florida, with three adult children 

KAREN BASS, 66. CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN 

A late addition to Biden’s shortlist, Bass, a congresswoman from Southern California and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, would add a progressive voice to the ticket.

Bass has an extensive background in police reform efforts and has spearheaded the legislative response in the House to the killing of George Floyd by police in May. But at 66, she may not offer the prospect of generational transition that Biden wants to show.

Family life: Lost her daughter and son-in-law in 2006 car crash; has four adult stepchildren from her former marriage

TAMMY DUCKWORTH, 52. ILLINOIS SENATOR 

Duckworth has a compelling personal story and would help bolster the campaign’s national security credentials.

The senator from Illinois is a combat veteran who lost her legs when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. She went on to become the first woman with a disability and the first Thai-American elected to Congress. Duckworth, however, has not been on the forefront of civil justice issues like Harris, Bass and others on Biden’s list.

Family life: Married to Bryan Bowlsbey, also a veteran, with two daughters, Abigail, five and Maile, two, the first child born to a sitting female senator  

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, 50. ATLANTA MAYOR

Bottoms is the first-term mayor of a city that has been riven by protests over Floyd’s death and the shooting of another Black man, Rayshard Brooks, by Atlanta police in June. Atlanta also has been a hot spot in the coronavirus pandemic, putting Bottoms on the front lines of the country’s two largest challenges of the moment.

While Bottoms was an early supporter of Biden, her lack of experience on the federal level may doom her chances. Biden, who would be the oldest U.S. president, has insisted his No. 2 be ready to assume the presidency at any time.

Married to Home Depot executive Derek Bottoms, with four adopted children 

ELIZABETH WARREN, 71. MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR 

Warren has spoken with Biden regularly since dropping out of the Democratic nominating race and endorsing him. The senator from Massachusetts is seen by Biden advisers as a bridge between the former vice president and people skeptical of his commitment to progressive policy priorities.

The selection of Warren, however, could fuel allegations by the Trump campaign that Biden favors an overly leftist agenda, while potentially alienating moderate voters in battleground states that Biden is cultivating.

Family life: Married to Harvard professor Bruce Mann, with two adult children from her first marriage and three grandchildren

MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, 60. NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR 

Lujan Grisham became the first Latina Democratic governor of a state in 2018, after serving six years in Congress. 

Biden’s campaign has been pushed by allies to consider a running mate who could boost his support among Latino voters, potentially the largest minority voting bloc in the November election.

Family life: Husband Gregory Girsham died of a brain aneurysm in 2004. She has two daughters 

GRETCHEN WHITMER, 48. MICHIGAN GOVERNOR 

Whitmer raised her profile as the governor of a battleground state hit hard by the coronavirus. 

But she came under fire earlier this year from some Michigan residents for a stay-at-home order that they viewed as too onerous.

Family life: Has two children from her first marriage and three stepchildren from her second marriage to Marc Mallory, a dentist

 

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