RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A Craven County lawmaker has accused the head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP of “race-baiting” for his recent statement calling on Republican legislators to reject proposed voter ID legislation.
Republican Rep. Michael Speciale responded to an email sent by the Rev. William Barber, who released details at a news conference Friday. The news conference was called to discuss details of the annual march on the N.C. General Assembly.
In Barber’s email, he called voter ID initiatives “national propaganda efforts by the far-right to justify the obvious tactic to suppress the votes of minorities, youth, disabled and the elderly,”
Speciale said in his response that the NAACP has “a proud history of working on behalf of black Americans to address the problems of society directed at them. You tarnish that with your racist diatribes and your race-baiting attitude.
“You do minorities and the elderly a disservice when you assume that they are incapable or incompetent to the point that they cannot provide a photo ID to vote,” Speciale wrote. “Your comments, both today and in the past are racist and inappropriate, therefore, I request that you remove me from your email list.”
A phone call seeking additional comment from Speciale wasn’t returned Friday.
Barber told the news conference that Speciale sent his email as a way to try to divide and conquer, and it won’t work. He also said he didn’t take the comments personally.
“He can have his opinion. We believe in freedom of speech,” Barber said. “We have a responsibility to correct him.”
A statement says the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the march coalition are focusing on ending poverty, educational equality, health care for all, fairness in the criminal justice system and voting rights. The march is scheduled for Feb. 9.
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