People are calling for the resignation of a Virginia mayor who made a racist comment about presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate in a since-deleted Facebook post. Luray Mayor Barry Presgraves, 77, wrote two weeks ago that Biden had “just announced Aunt Jemima” as his running mate.
Biden officially announced Harris as his running mate on Tuesday. Beforehand though, several Black women were on the short list for the position, including Florida Rep. Val Demings, California Rep. Karen Bass and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Presgraves' remark was met with a slew of criticism and the mayor has since apologized on Facebook and at a town council meeting.
“I want to make this very clear to everyone with absolutely no qualifications,” Presgraves said Monday. “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 continued, 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.”
Presgraves didn't respond to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment.
His apology wasn’t enough for many, who have called for him to step down from his position. Luray Council Member Leah Pence sent an email to the mayor Monday asking for his resignation for the comment.
“I am writing to strongly urge you to resign over a racist comment you made on Facebook,” she said in the email obtained by the Daily Mail. “The comment you posted has a type of humor that's not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours. While a resignation alone will not resolve the systemic subliminal racism that plagues our community, your resignation is imperative as we work towards ending racism in our community.”
Presgraves told the Page Valley News that he has no intentions of resigning.
“Hell no, I'm not resigning. The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve,” he said. “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 Town of Luray also released an official statement on their Facebook page, saying in part, “the Town of Luray rejects racism and is committed to working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity."
Luray, a small town 90 miles west of Washington D.C., has a 4% Black population.