(Memphis) WREG uncovered why so many African-American leaders seem to be defending controversial comments made by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks.
They admit the words she chose might be wrong, but they say the points she made are right. They even compared her to Malcolm X.
Some of her colleagues on the county commission say she needs to apologize, but a coalition of black leaders said there’s no reason for her to be sorry and they agree with what she thinks. They defended commissioner Brooks and say they relate to her message.
Earlier this week during a commission meeting, Brooks told an Hispanic contractor, “You chose to come here. We did not.”
She also said, “It’s not about you as a minority. It’s about Black folk in Shelby County trying to get employment.”
Friday morning, this group of pastors and politicians explained why they won’t condemn Brooks.
“Because we identify with what she’s talking about. During the civil rights movement we didn’t all agree with Malcolm X but we didn’t challenge him. Malcolm X spoke truth to what we were living everyday and what Henri Brooks is speaking to is what we live with everyday,” said LaSimba Gray, Rainbow PUSH.
Reverend LaSimba Gray says Blacks often get overlooked for government contract jobs and what we saw Monday was Brooks standing up for what she believes is discrimination.
Longtime friend State Representative Barbara Cooper worked with Brooks in the state house and watched her battle before.
“They went out and got buses and picketed her house. Why? Because she did not agree with something that was done that was inaccurate for our community,” she said, recounting a past backlash Brooks got after she spoke out about what she thought was discrimination.
Not everyone at the news conference agreed with what the group had to say.
Radio talk show host, Andrew Clarke, Sr., fired back when the ministers claimed the media should be targeting him for negative comments he’s made about blacks. They say Brooks’ comments are based on fact.
Gray said, “The substance cannot be dismissed and I don’t want us to lose focus of this fight by focusing on the personality and dismiss the principle.”
Brooks is running for juvenile court clerk. Those who held the news conference are also backing her in that race against incumbent Joy Touliatos.