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Duval state committeeman resigns after ‘colored people’ remark

Time ran out for John Parker as state committeeman for the Duval County Democrats. After over a week of media scrutiny and calls for him to step down, he did so Wednesday.

“It is with deep regret that I offer my resignation, effective immediately, as the State Committeeman of the Duval County Democratic Party and as a member of the Democratic National Committee,” Parker wrote to the chairs of the national, state, and county Democratic Parties.

“The past several weeks have been a challenging time as mistakes and a misstatement I made, and apologized for, have been misunderstood and give the impression I am something I am not,” Parker added.

Parker, who used the phrase “colored people” during a dinner conversation with other party members and officials that offended many at the table, came under fire from fellow Democrats (most notably his wife, Chairwoman Lisa King, who urged her husband to step down) and Republicans alike in the last week, since reporting began about the incident.

The pressure proved untenable.

On Wednesday, Democratic Gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Andrew Gillum and Sen. Audrey Gibson — the Senate Minority-Leader Designate and a recent former chair — joined the calls for Parker to go.

“I am very concerned about this situation. We need to bring Democrats together in 2018, not create distractions and divisions through our words and actions. I urge Mr. Parker to apologize fully and resign his positions as Duval County Democratic State Committeeman and on the Democratic National Committee,” Graham said in a statement.

Gillum followed up later on Wednesday: “I agree with Senator Gibson’s comments; John Parker should resign for the good of Duval County Democrats.”

Sen. Gibson kicked things off Wednesday morning.

“This morning I have spoken to John Parker and asked that he step down from his position as state committeeman,” Gibson asserted.

“While I do not believe John had any intent of malice in the manner in which he spoke,” Gibson said, “it is imperative for the good of this city and the local and statewide party that he take this action.”

Parker, on Friday, said he “absolutely would not resign.”

However, that absolute turned out to be more conditional than he thought.

With Parker out of the picture, at least some Dems are moving forward.

Lydia Hudson, President of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, said “it takes a big person to admit when they have made a mistake, and to accept the consequences of their actions.  Through his actions today, John Parker has demonstrated what is best about our Party – a willingness to learn and grow, and a genuine respect for all communities.  We appreciate the years of activism and service which Mr. Parker has given this Party, and want to use this opportunity to remind the people of Florida that words matter.”

Duval Democrats’ chairwoman Lisa King, meanwhile, had this to say: ” Today, I accepted the resignation of John Parker as State Committeeman and DNC Member. I do this with the certainty that it is the right thing for our party. Although he has dedicated over 35 years of service, his statements and actions necessitated his departure. “

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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