A Virginia mayor is facing calls to resign for a Facebook post saying Joe Biden “just announced Aunt Jemima” as his running mate in his bid for the White House.
Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves posted the comment late Sunday on his Facebook page. It was later removed, but not before the offensive remark was condemned by a councilmember, town officials and residents in the small town where he’s served as mayor since 2008.
“I am writing to strongly urge you to resign over a racist comment you made on Facebook,” Luray Councilmember Leah Pence wrote in an email to the three-term mayor who is not seeking reelection, WTOP reports. “The comment you posted has a type of humor that has not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours.”
Pence said Presgraves’ “resignation is imperative” since she and many residents of the small town have lost faith in his ability to effectively lead after his racially charged post.
A message seeking comment from Presgraves was not returned early Wednesday, but he has no intention of stepping down, Page Valley News reports.
“Hell no, I’m not resigning,” he told the newspaper Monday. “The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve.”
Presgraves said he saw the post last week and shared it because it he “thought it was funny,” but claimed he wasn’t prepared for the ensuing blowback.
“I had no idea people would react the way they did,” he said. “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.”
Presgraves said he took down the post within 30 minutes and insisted he had no negative “intent behind it.”
“I don’t even depict that as racist,” he continued. “I ate Aunt Jemima all my life.”
Biden, 77, has vowed to select a woman as his running mate and his potential picks include women of color including California Sen. Kamala Harris, California Rep. Karen Bass and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, among others.
Town officials, meanwhile, said in a statement released Monday that they “reject racism,” but did not directly refer to Presgraves.
“The Town of Luray rejects racism and is committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity,” the statement read, adding that the events that prompted the announcement would be discussed at a town meeting next week.
The town of Luray has a population of 4,895, according to Census figures cited by WTOP, including 92 percent that are white. Less than 4 percent are black, the station reports.