Broward School Board Member Ann Murray has yet to publicly comment on the reprimand she received for allegedly making a racist remark, but she did try to answer questions from Freda Stevens, a political activist and and chairwoman of the Democratic Black Caucus of Broward County, about the controversy.
The school board member, who has admitted using the N-word in derogatory fashion, probably should have just kept her mouth shut.
After what sounds like a rambling conversation in which Murray dug in her heels on the issue, Stevens put out a letter calling on her to resign her school board seat. She says she will publicly demand Murray's resignation at today's school board meeting.
Stevens said that Murray went on a "rant" when asked to explain her use of the term "nigger heaven" to describe rowdy nosebleed seats at a Dolphins football game. Murray admitted making the remark while working as a supervisor in the school board's transportation department in 2007 in front of several black bus drivers that she was supervising. One of the upset drivers said Murray had used the N-word multiple times in the past.
Stevens says that when she asked Murray about the allegations on the phone, the school board member told her:
"You all do not know if I have black blood in my family. I cannot make up for what happened 400 years ago. I know that some of you all are just sensitive but I have been called names, whitey and honky. I just brushed it off."
Then Murray, according to Stevens, brought up a book called Black and White, which she said explained why some people believe they are superior to the black race.
There is a book titled Black and White about race relations, but I'm not sure if that's the one referenced by Murray. I do know that Murray's purported statement about slavery exhibits great ignorance of American history. The Civil War, of course, was fought less than 150 years ago and segregation in the south didn't end until the 1960s.
"I expected her to come back with at least some contrition," said Stevens. "But she starts by saying you all don't know if I have black blood. I said, 'I don't think in those terms. Blood isn't black or white, it's red.' You could hear it in her voice that she really thinks that way. It's her mindset. This isn't a one-time slip.
"I could not believe what I was hearing. I literally could not believe this woman was having this conversation. I had to be dreaming."
Inside, read Stevens' open letter to Murray.
March 20, 2011
The Honorable Ann Murray
School Board Member District 1
School Board of Broward County, Fl
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
Dear Ann Murray, School board member:
I write this letter asking for your immediate resignation from the School Board for use of racial slurs and more importantly your cavalier attitude about the matter. As you know, Bob Norman of the Pulp leaked evidence where you repeatedly used the "N" word to refer to African Americans when speaking to coworkers as a School Board Employee. You have boldly admitted using the term "nigger"multiple times without even an ounce of contrition.
On March 19, 2011, I called you to give you a fair chance to clear your name following Bob Norman's report. Instead of you giving me any reason to believe you have seen the error of your ways, after boldly admitting making the comments, you went into a rant stating,
"You all do not know if I have black blood in my family. I cannot make up for what happened 400 years ago. I know that some of you all are just sensitive but I have been called names, too. I have been called whittie [sic] and honkey. I just brushed it off."
When asked to explain what you meant by black blood, you stated, "Have you ever read the book Black and White?" I said, "No, I never heard of such a book. I do not think in terms of black and white. People are people to me, especially children. Blood is not black or white, it is red!"
You went on to state, "The book Black and White explains why white people feel they are superior to blacks." When asked, what that book has to do with your use of the "N" word, you failed to explain further. Therefore, I ended the call by telling you that I would call for your immediate resignation from the school board.
Broward County Public Schools is the sixth largest school system in the country. Our African American children are underrepresented and performing below their counterparts. We are at such a critical time in our county (Broward County) amid the political corruption scandals, daily arrests of elected officials, and the grand jury report, it is imperative that you- School Board Member Ann Murray immediately resign or be removed from the school board by the Office of the Governor for failure to fulfill your duties as a public official. Ms. Murray, you have failed the children of Broward County Public Schools and are not fit to sit on the dais one more day. You deserve an "F" in character. The school board is no place for a racist, especially an unrepentant one.
Ms. Murray I call upon you to do the honorable thing for the children of Broward County Public Schools by resigning your position effective immediately. Should you fail to do the right thing and resign, then I am prepared to go to the Governor of the great state of Florida and demand your immediate removal. Furthermore, I am prepared to take any and all legal action against the School Board including a civil action in both state and federal court should you remain in office. You have until the close of business today or legal action will commence.
Please govern yourself accordingly.
Freda Stevens, Vice President
Democratic Black Caucus of Broward County
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