Saturday, May. 24, 2008 3:00 am
GREENSBORO — A comment that Guilford County commissioner Billy Yow called a running joke was labeled racist by Commissioner Carolyn Coleman.
Yow's remark Thursday came as Chairman Kirk Perkins recognized commissioners who attended a special legislative session earlier in the day at N.C. A&T. Perkins didn't call the names of all commissioners who went.
"We were there, too," Commissioner Melvin "Skip" Alston said over Perkins.
"Y'all all look alike," Yow said, grinning as he interrupted the chairman.
Perkins kept talking about the session. Coleman interrupted moments later.
"I want to make it clear, that, for him to make a statement like that, 'All of us look alike,' that's not funny," Coleman said.
The exchange capped a meeting marked with more interruptions among the commissioners than has been seen in several months.
Yow has waded into race-related issues before as a commissioner. In 2003 he compared the NAACP to the Taliban and white supremacist groups, comments that were later labeled racist by local NAACP leaders. That led to a vaguely written agreement that said the NAACP shouldn't be involved in county commissioner squabbles, but no apology from Yow.
Coleman is a national figure in the NAACP and worked in the civil rights movement in the Southeast.
After the meeting, which ended about a minute after Yow's comment, commissioners Coleman, Alston and Bruce Davis spoke about what Yow said.
They agreed that Yow's comment was inappropriate. Coleman was the most outspoken. She said she didn't feel it was appropriate for a member of one race to say that members from another all look the same.
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