Virginia mayor refuses to resign over controversial Biden, 'Aunt Jemima' post
© Luray

The mayor of a small Virginia town is rejecting calls to step down after he shared a post calling presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida MORE’s potential running mate “Aunt Jemima,” brushing off critics who have called it racist and sexist.

Luray, Va., Mayor Barry Presgraves earlier this week wrote in a since-deleted post: “Joe Biden just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick.”

The former vice president is expected to announce his running mate soon. He has pledged to have a woman on the Democratic ticket and several women of color — including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTexas Democratic official urges Biden to visit state: 'I thought he had his own plane' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements A game theorist's advice to President Trump on filling the Supreme Court seat MORE (D-Cali.), Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police Outrage erupts over Breonna Taylor grand jury ruling MORE (D-Cali.) and former national security adviser Susan Rice — are being considered for the role. 

The 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand of pancake mixes and syrups announced last month that it would rebrand, saying "Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype” dating back to the days of slavery.

The iconic logo brand features a black woman named Aunt Jemima who was originally dressed as a minstrel character, inspired by the minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima.”

Presgraves, who is not seeking reelection this year, immediately faced calls to resign to which the mayor responded: “Hell, no.”

“The people elected me and I have a few months more to serve,” he told the local outlet Page Valley News.


Leah Pence, a Luray council member, condemned his remarks and shared an email calling for him to step down. 

“The comment you posted has a type of humor that not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours,” she wrote. “While a resignation alone will not resolve the systemic subliminal racism that plagues our community, your resignation is imperative as we work towards ending racism in our community.”

The Valley Region Caucus of the Virginia Young Democrats wrote that: "Idiotic racism can not be normalized."


The town of Luray on Monday released a statement rejecting racism and committing to “working together with the community through understanding, compassion, and opportunity.”

The community of fewer than 5,000 residents is predominately white, with only 3.96 percent of residents identifying as Black in the 2010 Census. 

Presgraves insisted that he did not intend the post to come off as racist.

“This was about a prominent woman who made pancake batter and the company was forced to take it off, which was wrong,” Presgraves told the local outlet. “This was no more racist than the names I’ve been called. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”

He said he made a mistake and said he had “no idea people would react the way they did.”

“If I had a chance to do it over, I wouldn’t do it,” the mayor said. “You can apologize all you want, but no one will believe it.”