Posted on January 17, 2011

Maine Gov. Changes MLK Plans After Telling NAACP, ‘Kiss My Butt’

AOL News, January 17, 2011

Gov. Paul LePage changed his Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend plans and showed up at a breakfast honoring the slain civil rights leader Monday, days after he said critics of his decision to skip other events could “kiss my butt.” He even joined some of the participants in an African dance.

The Republican governor’s appearance was organized in the days after he made the remark Friday, responding to a reporter’s question about criticism he had received over his decision not to attend the state NAACP’s annual King Day celebrations. He said at the time that he didn’t attend events for special interests, and his spokesman cited scheduling conflicts.

“Tell them to kiss my butt,” LePage said.

The comment drew harsh criticism from state and national leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Maine NAACP Director Rachel Talbot Ross said her organization is no special interest, and the group’s national president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said LePage’s comments “inflame racial tension.”

While Monday’s appearance was hastily added to his schedule, LePage had previously attended several Martin Luther King breakfasts in Waterville while serving as mayor before he was elected governor, a spokesman said. Monday’s event was sponsored by the local Rotary club and a senior citizens’ group.

{snip} In an interview, he declined to discuss his earlier comments, but acknowledged that the holiday “represents an awful lot, particularly to black America. I mean, Martin Luther King was a peaceful activist and unfortunately he gave his life for it.”

In a statement issued later by his office, he said, “Dr. King is someone who spent and ultimately gave his life making sure that people got a fair shake regardless of race. We have come far through the years, but the journey continues to make Dr. King’s dreams a reality. I urge all Mainers to work as one for a better life for all.”


Others attending Monday’s event weren’t so forgiving.

LePage’s attendance was “a political act that has nothing to do with his convictions,” said Julie de Sherbinin, a language professor at Colby College in Waterville. De Sherbinin, who is white, is involved in a campus organization that promotes improved race relations.


The Republican governor of Maine has refused to break bread with the NAACP for Martin Luther King Day celebrations, instead telling the civil rights group to kiss his butt.

Gov. Paul LePage says he has personal commitments that will keep him from attending a dinner Sunday night and a breakfast on Monday that honor King.

“I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests,” LePage told WCSH-TV.

When asked about charges from NAACP leaders that he has ducked several requests to attend their events over the past few months, LePage offered the group a suggestion: “Tell them to kiss my butt.”

LePage, who is white, further defended his planned absence, saying his adopted son is black.

“If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them,” he said.