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NC Representative calls state NAACP leader's efforts racist

By Elizabeth Bynum
Published On: Feb 01 2013 10:51:38 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 01 2013 10:34:45 PM CST

A newly-elected member of the North Carolina House claims in an email that the diatribes of the NAACP's state leader are 'racist' and a product of a 'race-opportunist.'

Representative Michael Speciale sent the email to NAACP state president Rev. William Barber last week., in response to comments Barber made about voting ID requirements.

In a statement, Rev. Barber called voter ID initiatives "national propaganda efforts by the far-right to justify the obvious tactic to suppress the votes of minorities, youth, disabled and the elderly," and urged Republican lawmakers to abandon their push for such a law in North Carolina.

In response to Rev. Barber's statements, Rep. Speciale sent the following email:

                                                                      ---

Dr. Barber,

  This is as insulting a diatribe as I have seen in years.  The NAACP has a proud history of working on behalf of black Americans to address the problems of society directed at them.  You tarnish that with your racist diatribes and your race-baiting attitude.  The photo requirement to vote is to prove that one is who they say they are.  Nowhere in anyone’s minds but yours and your fellow race-opportunists is race, ethnic background, or color of one’s skin mentioned, insinuated or inferred regarding the proposed voter ID laws. 

  You do minorities and the elderly a disservice when you assume that they are incapable or incompetent to the point that they cannot provide a photo ID to vote.  Photo ID’s are required in nearly every aspect of American life, and most Americans over the age of 16 have some form of photo ID.  Your talking points make no sense, as you ramble on with Constitutional phrases to give an impression that you know what you are talking about, and it is apparent that you are grasping at straws.  Your attempts to make minorities and the elderly believe that they are victims in this effort is contrary to common sense but apparently necessary to your economic survival

Your comments, both today and in the past are racist and inappropriate, therefore, I request that you remove me from your email list.

Michael Speciale

                                                                       ---

Barber spoke at a news conference in Raleigh Friday morning, in regards to the email.

"I don’t take stuff like that personally," Barber said. "[Speciale] can have his opinion. We believe in freedom of speech. We have a responsibility to correct him."

A subsequent news conference was held in Greenville Friday afternoon, where Joshua Vincent, NC NAACP's field secretary, commented on the email.

"We're an organization that advocates against [racism], and I think if anything, an e-mail like that shows that it's a rallying cry for the folks that do this work and we believe and know that it needs to be done here in North Carolina," Vincent said.

Speciale represents North Carolina's District 3.  The district includes all of Pamlico County, as well as portions of Craven and Beaufort Counties.