*The NAACP, NAACP New England State Conference and the NAACP Maine Chapter issued the following statement Saturday in response to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s inflammatory remarks on Friday:
“Governor LePage’s decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King Holiday denigrates his office,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine’s history and out of touch with our nation’s deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing.
“The NAACP Chapter at the Maine State Prison is a testament to our success in fostering racial healing. If the Governor truly looks, he will see it is the largest civic group in the prison with a membership and a leadership that are half black and half white.
“The NAACP is not a ‘special interest group’ as Governor LePage assumed, in fact, we are a public interest group and our goal for over 100 years has been to build One America, and One Maine.”
“During more than 100 years of struggle for equality, social justice and fairness, the NAACP has faced many obstacles in its proud history of helping to move our great country closer to its’ guiding principle of equality and freedom for all,” stated Juan M. Cofield, President of the NAACP New England Area Conference. “It has faced obstinate federal, state and local officials and recalcitrant state and local government entities. So the utterance of Paul LePage, the Maine State Governor, publicly telling the NAACP to “kiss his but” is nothing new for the NAACP. It is a throwback to decades ago — and we all had hoped that those attitudes by public officials were behind us. Just a few days ago, President Obama asked that all citizens and public officials become more civil as we engage each other over ideas. The Governor ‘ss attitude reflects poorly upon his constituents. We trust that Governor LePage will reflect upon his crude and intolerant language. The citizens of the state of Maine deserve much better. I can promise that the NAACP will continue a determined and assertive struggle in the state of Maine in our quest for equality, social justice and fairness.”
“The tone Governor Paul LePage has set just after ten days in office should be an offense to all Mainers and the office he has been entrusted to lead with civility, honesty, and decorum fitting of our highest elected official,” stated Rachel Talbot Ross, NAACP Maine State Director. “The Maine NAACP is very concerned that after several attempts to meet with the Governor, over a period of eight months, coupled with a policy decision that will severely impact our immigrant brothers and sisters made on his very first day in office, that a pattern may be being established of failing to reach out and engage the diverse communities of Maine. The NAACP has taken seriously the commitment Governor Paul LePage made during his inaugural address when he said, ‘I am willing to listen and work constructively with anyone committed to honest solutions that benefit all Maine people.’ We want to be part of this process and continue to ask for a meeting to begin working in a respectful and transparent manner for the betterment of our state.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.