Luray, Virginia Mayor Barry Presgraves is refusing to step down from his position despite the majority of his small town demanding that he do so.
Presgraves made a racist and sexist tweet when he referred to Joe Biden’s potential running mate as “Aunt Jemima.”
“Joe Biden just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick,” Presgraves tweeted.
Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate soon. He has promised that he will choose a woman. Several women of color are in the running including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Cali.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Cali.), and former national security adviser Susan Rice.
Back in July, the brand “Aunt Jemima,” which has been making pancake mixes and syrup for 130 years announced that it would be rebranding saying that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype” that dates back to the days of slavery.
The “Aunt Jemima” brand features a black woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel character. The character was inspired by the old minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima.”
Almost immediately after making the post, Presgraves faced calls to resign. He is not seeking reelection and refuses to step down.
“The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve,” he told a local news outlet.
Leah Pence, a member of the Luray council condemned Presgraves’s remarks. She shared an email in which she asked him to step down.
“The comment you posted has a type of humor that not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours,” Pence wrote. “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.”
The Valley Region Caucus of the Virginia Young Democrats wrote that: “Idiotic racism cannot be normalized.”
On Monday, the town of Luray released a statement rejecting racism and committing to “working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity.”
The town of Luray has less than 5,000 residents and is predominately white with only 3.96 percent of residents identifying black.
Presgraves continues to insist that he did not intend the post to come off as racist.
“This was about a prominent woman who made pancake batter and the company was forced to take it off, which was wrong,” Presgraves stated. “This was no more racist than the names I’ve been called. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
He went on to state that he made a mistake and said he had “no idea people would react the way they did.”
“If I had a chance to do it over, I wouldn’t do it, he said. “You can apologize all you want, but no one will believe it.”