Paul Bailey, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member and candidate for mayor of Matthews, opened Tuesday’s board meeting by apologizing for a Facebook post that made light of racial clashes that have torn the nation.
Bailey gave no details, but said he had posted something Monday that drew complaints from constituents and fellow board members. “I understand now and should have understood yesterday the impact the post would have.,” he said. “For this I want to extend to each and every one of you a heartfelt apology for my actions.”
Bailey walked away shaking his head when an Observer reporter asked him for details. WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, reported that the post in question featured a young white girl in an exaggerated shrug, with the caption “Black people who were never slaves are fighting white people who were never Nazis over a Confederate statue erected by Democrats, because Democrats can’t stand their own history anymore … and somehow it’s Trumps fault?”
Bailey, a Republican, has represented the south suburban District 6 on the school board for the past four years. He’s not seeking re-election this year; instead he’s one of two candidates for mayor of Matthews.
Earlier Tuesday, Superintendent Clayton Wilcox sent a message to CMS families and employees saying he would stand up against hateful words and actions in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists, including KKK members and Nazis, held a “Unite the Right” march there to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After physical confrontations with counterprotesters, a participant in the white nationalist march is accused of running his car into a crowd of demonstrators, killing one person and injuring 19.
Trump has faced widespread criticism, including from Republican leaders and business executives who resigned from his advisory councils, for failing to strongly denounce Nazis and Klan. Instead, Trump said there were troublemakers and good people on both sides.
In his apology, Bailey said his duty as a leader is to “maintain the level of respect and kindness” that people expect. “Our children and young people are watching and listening to all those who are around them. This includes me,” Bailey said. “Again, to each of you my sincerest and heartfelt apologies.”
WBTV reported that board Chair Mary McCray, a black Democrat who could not be reached for comment after Tuesday’s meeting, had called for the public apology.
It’s not the first time Bailey and McCray have clashed over race. At a 2016 board meeting, Bailey objected when McCray talked about the board being racially divided.
“We need to get over it. It’s done, it’s over, it was 200 years ago. We made mistakes. We’ve done stupid things,” Bailey said at the time, in an apparent reference to slavery.
McCray said the next day that Bailey had “stuck his foot in his mouth” by trying to deny that racism persists.
“For a white man that is easy to say. For someone of color who sees it, lives it, breathes it, eats it, that is not the reality,” she said. “For someone to say that in good old Charlotte racism is not prevalent, that is an outright lie.”