(Memphis) So many people are talking about Commissioner Henri Brooks’ racially charged comments on Monday that the NAACP and Latino Memphis called a press conference to come together on the issue.
But once everyone arrived, they refused to talk about those comments.
Reverend Keith Norman is president of the Memphis NAACP.
He said, “We must leave comments such as these in their place and let the fallout deal with that. But we as leaders must step to the higher plane and lead people to a different and better conversation.”
But not everyone agrees with Reverend Keith Norman.
They say when Brooks refers to a fellow commissioner as a Klansman, that these comments cannot be ignored.
Sidney Mendelson is the editor at La Prensa Latina.
He said, “Why they won’t they come out and say that Henri Brooks made a mistake she’s wrong and the racism in her came out.”
Mendelson thinks Commissioner Brooks should resign.
But others disagree.
They say it highlights a growing problem in America – minority groups trying to say their struggles are worse and that they face more discrimination than others.
D’Army Bailey is a civil rights activist, and former judge.
He said, “Anywhere this discussion should be had so we can show the country some leadership so we can show the rest of the country to bring alliances of these groups. Both of which are underprivileged.”
Bailey says coming together is the first step to a united Memphis, where race doesn’t matter.
Maurico Calvo with Latino Memphis agrees.
“I think how she addresses this issue is going to speakerphone and about her character her professionalism and waiting to see what she does.”
While nobody knows what she will do next, everyone can hope it’s not something like this again.
Thursday, eight commissioners said Brooks should apologize for those comments. The ‘white sheet’ comment was directed toward Commissioner Chris Thomas, the only one who thinks she should resign.
But Commissioners Walter Baily and Justin Ford say Brooks shouldn’t apologize unless she wants to.
Commissioner Justin Ford said, “I feel that if Commissioner Brooks has done anything she feels is wrong she will apologize and accept responsibility for it.”
Anyone who follows the Shelby County Commission knows lots of outrageous comments are made in meetings and plenty of apologies follow.
Commissioner Heidi Shafer said, “Meetings can get really long and heated. Tempers can flare. Nobody is perfect. But I think the good thing to do is if you say something that’s out of step an apology is probably in order.”
Commissioner Mike Ritz agrees, “I think she owed and apology to the citizen she was rude to. I don’t think she owes apologies to commissioners who are expecting apologies because frankly she has six to seven years of apologies to do.”
These may be county commissioners, but it’s a big deal everywhere, especially in Memphis.
Mayor A.C. Wharton said, “The comments, regardless of the intention was, is totally inconsistent with everything I stand for.”
But a ‘Henri Brooks for Juvenile County Clerk’ sign stands in his yard. Probably because his wife Ruby Wharton is the vhair of her campaign.
Ruby Wharton added, “I respect this woman and I think she would do a great job if she were Clerk but that’s about all I can say. She may make some mistakes, but we all do.”
Even if the majority of commissioners wanted Brooks to resign, they can’t force her to. Commissioners Burgess and Billingsley never returned our emails or calls.