Georgia Governor Refers To 'Colored People' In Education Speech

Gov. Nathan Deal says he meant no insult.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) went after opponents of an education ballot measure known as Amendment 1 in a speech last month, saying if they wanted to help “colored people,” this measure was a good place to start. 

“The irony of some of the groups who are opposing doing something to help these minority children is beyond my logic. If you want to advance the state of colored people, start with their children,” Deal said in an Oct. 3 speech, Fox 5 in Atlanta reported Wednesday. 

“Colored people” is an outdated, out-of-fashion term. Deal told Fox 5 he meant to refer to the NAACP ― a civil rights group whose full name is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ― but didn’t use the full name and didn’t mean to “insult anyone.” Deal’s explanation would mean that he intended to urge people to “advance the state of the NAACP” by starting with their children. 

The NAACP was founded when “colored” was a preferred terminology. The organization’s leaders have discussed internally whether to change the name, but have kept it out of respect for its history.

Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment proposed by Deal, would allow the state to take over “chronically failing public schools” and put them in a new state-run district.  

Polls show that the ballot measure is facing significant opposition ― from Democrats and Republicans ― and Deal has stepped up his advocacy for the measure, arguing it would help minority students in these low-performing schools. Critics ― including the NAACP, teachers and dozens of school boards ― say that other states that have tried this approach have not helped failing schools. They also say it would hurt local control of public education and harm school districts financially.

“Well, I think I misspoke in that I didn’t use the entire name of the organization,” Deal told Fox 5, referring to the NAACP. “I don’t think I misspoke in terms of where I think they should be on this issue. ... I think you know I’m not a person who has racially prejudiced or biased opinions.”

Before becoming governor, Deal was a congressman. He dabbled in birtherism, saying in 2009 that he had “no idea” where President Barack Obama was born, although he was willing to take his word that he was born in the United States.

Want more updates from Amanda? Sign up for her newsletter, Piping Hot Truth.