CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A local West Virginia official said she has been placed on leave after she made a racist post on Facebook about first lady Michelle Obama.
Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Republican Donald Trump’s election as president, saying: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”
Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.”
Taylor told WCHS-TV on Monday night that she was put on leave.
Mayor Whaling apologized for her role in the incident on Tuesday, saying her comment wasn’t intended to be racist. Whaling said in a statement sent to news media that she was referencing the change in the White House. She says she isn’t racist.
Clay’s town council planned to discuss the issue at a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.
The post, first reported by WSAZ-TV, has caused a backlash and prompted calls for Taylor and Mayor Whaling to be fired. The post was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted. The Facebook pages of Taylor and Whaling couldn’t be found Monday.
The nonprofit Clay County Development Corp. provides services to elderly and low-income residents in Clay County. It is funded through state and federal grants and local fees. It is not affiliated with the town of Clay, which is about 50 miles east of Charleston.
Owens Brown, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s West Virginia chapter, is among those calling for the removal of both women.
“I feel so it’s unfortunate that people still have these racist undertones,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, this is a reality that we are dealing with in America today. There’s no place for these types of attitudes in our state.”
African-Americans make up about 4 percent of West Virginia’s 1.8 million residents, according to the U.S. Census.
About 77 percent of Clay County residents supported Trump in the Nov. 8 election. In 2012, President Barack Obama received 31 percent of the county vote when Republican Mitt Romney easily carried the state.
Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County in a race for the state House of Representatives despite a series of Facebook posts that depicted President Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys. Republican officials, including potential new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race. But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be “welcome in our caucus.”