Black officials forgiving of Sen. Harry Reid’s comment about Obama
Black leaders in Nevada have been largely forgiving of Sen. Harry Reid’s verbal missteps on the subject of Barack Obama – with even Republican State Sen. Maurice Washington saying everyone should “move on.”
“Harry opened mouth and inserted foot and now he has to pay the price for it,” said Washington.
He said many people have within them “certain things they’ve grown up with.”
“He did say it,” he said. “Doesn’t make it right but we need to move on, I don’t care who it is.”
The heads of the Las Vegas and Reno-Sparks chapters of the NAACP both said they fully accept Reid’s apology for saying he thought Obama had a good chance to win election because he is “light skinned” and well spoken with “no Negro dialect.”
Frank Hawkins Jr., representing the southern chapter, and Lonnie Feemster representing the northern chapter of NAACP both said people should focus on Reid’s long record of support for equality, civil rights and issues important to minorities.
“I don’t think the senator meant any harm by his comments,” said Hawkins. “He spoke out of character.”
“A lot of people would like to make it a career-ending move for him,” Hawkins said. “The bottom line is he is a supporter of Barack Obama. We need health care and to put people back to work. We don’t need to bicker about a comment that was made to a reporter last year before the election.”
Feemster said he told Reid he was not offended by the comment.
“I recognize he was commenting on the nuances of the white voter,” said Feemster.
“I’m concerned about one thing, the way you vote on issues critical to the black community,” he said. “Senator Reid’s voting record is what’s important, not whether he used the word ‘Negro.'”
He also objected to attempts to compare Reid’s comments to those of former Republican House leader Trent Lott, who said the nation would have been better off if segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-SC, had been elected president in 1948.
“Trent Lott made a racist statement and he’s got a 40-year record that’s abominable to civil rights,” Feemster said.
Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, issued a statement saying he too accepts Reid’s apology and doesn’t see him as racist.
“I have known Sen. Reid for many years and he has consistently been supportive of advancing the interests of the African-American community as he has for all Nevadans and all Americans,” Horsford said.
He described Reid as “a good man” and said his leadership is needed now more than ever in Washington.
Reid, in a press conference, said he was proud that he was one of the first to suggest to Obama that he run for president.
He said he has apologized to Obama and “everyone in the sound of my voice that I could have made a better choice of words.”
“I’m not going to dwell on this any longer,” he said. “It’s in the books.”