State NAACP denies 'racist' charge

Posted June 2, 2011 2:52 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2011 3:33 p.m. EDT

— Members of the state NAACP spoke in support of the organization and its president Thursday, a week after a state lawmaker charged the civil rights group with racism.

In a May 14 email, Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, wrote, "I have no interest in receiving anything from a Racist such as William Barber. He and the NC NAACP represent everything that is wrong with race relations in our state and country. You should be ashamed of yourself for continuing to promote racism but that is the modern day legacy of the NAACP as a racist organization led by Racist individuals who are Cowards."

Barber said he was shocked by those words.

Courtney Patterson, an NAACP representative of Sampson, Duplin, Johnston, Lenoir and Wayne counties, said Thursday that the organization is "far away from racist.

"We basically represent all people and especially those who are disenfranchised," he said.

The NAACP has been outspoken in protesting actions of the Republican-controlled state Legislature, including support for vouchers for private schools and a requirement that voters present photo identification.

Barber, president of the state NAACP, was arrested May 24 as he spoke out loudly while the state House debated a budget bill. Barber said legislators are cutting programs that provide education, health care and other support for the poor.

LaRoque reiterated his support for the Senate's $19.7 billion state budget proposal Thursday, listing 10 points where he says it helps people more than the plan presented by Gov. Bev Perdue. 

"The governor’s budget saddles counties with many expenses that ours does not," he wrote in a statement. "It’s a compromise. The Legislature is meeting the governor more than halfway. She should compromise."