Civil rights activists are asking U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake to meet with them to discuss his son's derogatory tweets.
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin is joined by other community leaders, including the Rev. Oscar Tillman of the NAACP, in issuing a letter to Flake condemning the recent racist remarks made by his son, Tanner Flake.
African-American community leaders said they want to meet with Flake in person to discuss the incident and his relationship with his African-American constituents.
"The Senator should meet with us. He apologized to thin air, not to us. This is an opportunity for him to do so in-person and to create what will hopefully be a lasting and healthier line of communication with the Black Community," Maupin said in a statement Thursday.
Maupin said the following letter was sent to Flake on Thursday by mail to his Washington, D.C., office as well as by email:
"We are writing you to request, at your earliest convenience, a face-to-face meeting with you after what can best be described as a week of regretful and deeply troubling happenings. Recent remarks, attributed to your son, that you both have offered apologies for, had a great and negative impact on many people, black Arizonans in particular.
"We acknowledge your apology and the fact that you regret his choice of words. But Senator, we hope you can understand that it is not the words that concern us so much as it is the kinds of ideologies and values that give life to such words that gives us pause.
"Many in our community have looked past criticisms of you in relation to your positions on race. When issues of historical familial ties to slavery were raised, many looked past it. When rumors of your 'tolerance' of Apartheid in South Africa were raised, many looked past that, too. In fact, some in our community went to great lengths to halt what they felt were 'low' political blows regarding your commitment to racial equality. This latest incident, Senator Flake, is something quite different and this time we will and must face it, head-on, and hopefully together with you.
"We strongly encourage you to reach out to us, in a timely way, and to make the necessary room in your schedule to meet with leaders of Arizona's Black Community. Many in our community cannot understand why black leaders weren't contacted by you or your office after this incident became public. If we are a valued constituency, as you have said in the past, we certainly weren't treated like it. Learning of your apology/explanation second-hand from media reports left us, and justly so, wondering if our community matters to you at all. We deserve the opportunity, now more than ever, to express our concerns about this and other issues and to dialogue candidly with you in-person about solutions and how to move forward, together. We hope this letter and invitation initiates the first of many over-due meetings with black leaders. We hope you will respond swiftly and accommodate our very reasonable request.
"Trusting that the concerns of your black constituents are a priority and that you endeavor to work for the good of ALL Arizonans, we await your response.
"Rev. Jarrett B. Maupin II, Rev. Oscar Tillman, president, Maricopa County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hon. Calvin C. Goode, former Phoenix vice-Mmayor and city councilman, Dr. Ann Hart, Arizona civil rights and education advocate, Rev. Dr. Luther Holland, chairman, Ministers for Racial, Social, and Economic Justice."
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