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Florida Democrat committeeman who used racially insensitive language resigns
Florida Democratic National Committee member John Parker resigned on Wednesday amid controversy over a racially insensitive comment he made in January that left colleagues and opponents alike calling for him to step down.
Parker, who is also the state committeeman for the Duval County Democratic Party, found himself in hot water after referring to African Americans as “colored people” in January at a Democrat Party meeting in a Jacksonville, FL restaurant. Since then, Parker has insisted that he merely misspoke, and had intended to say “people of color” — but many have questioned his honesty.
A verbal slip?
According to Diallo-Sekou Seabrooks, the head of the Black Commission in Jacksonville who witnessed Parker’s verbal misstep, this was not a simple accident. Seabrooks told First Coast News that, during January’s meeting, the committeeman “freely used” the phrase “colored people,” while worrying that the city’s government could start resembling that of Atlanta.
Seabrooks’ suspicions were further supported by State Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville), who claimed that this was not Parker’s first “disgraceful” comment, nor even his first racial slur.
“Preceding this instance,” Daniels recalled, “he allegedly referred to the Working People Caucus as the ‘Poor Black People Working Caucus’ and called a constituent the ‘mayor’s mammy.’”
Calls for Resignation
Subsequently, Parker reportedly received countless calls from Democratic Party officials and African American activists urging him to step down. After being called complicit, Lisa King, Parker’s wife and Duval County Democratic Executive Committee Chairwoman, was forced to join in.
She wrote in a statement to First Coast news:
Though it is painful and awkward to air this conflict publicly, I have told John from the beginning that the most appropriate course of action for him was to resign.
While I know John does not have malice in his heart, and has learned from this experience, he has lost the confidence of many of us to continue to serve in his leadership positions.
Like King, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo initially tried to handle the matter privately, nudging Parker to resign behind closed doors. But when he failed to do so, she was forced to make the matter public, she said.
“Along with DEC Chair Lisa King, I also asked John Parker to resign,” Rizzo said. “Stepping down is the right thing to do.”
A resignation and an apology
Parker finally resigned on Wednesday, while apologizing for what he said. Parker wrote in a statement published by Politico:
It is with deep regret that I offer my resignation, effective immediately, as the State Committeeman of the Duval County Democratic Party and as a member of the Democratic National Committee.
He went on to acknowledge his mistake, and express concern that, as a result of what he said, he has been “misunderstood” and has given “the impression I am something that I am not.” Parker also wished that he would have been given “due process” for his comments, writing, “I am confident that a full investigation would have shown that I erred with my mouth, not my heart.”
But Parker’s verbal slip came at an important time for his party, who will be trying to appeal to the African Americans of Duval County in order to get a Democrat into the governor’s office. Unfortunately for the DNC, this slip of tongue may have dissolved their chances at success.
It’s good to see a Democrat being held accountable for the actions for once. There is no place in this country for racism and bigotry.
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