WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A state politician’s comment on race and marijuana has prompted local church leaders to speak up after a meeting with local leaders and lawmakers.
KSN has been following the story about Kansas Representative Steve Alford who made racially charged comments about African-Americans and marijuana. Alford has since apologized for the comments and stepped down from a number of leadership roles including: Chairman of the House Committee on Children and Seniors and as vice-chair of the Child Welfare System Task Force.
Sunday KSN spoke with the president of Missionary Baptist Convention, Pastor LaMont T. Holder. Holder represents 100 Kansas churches and sat in on a closed-door meeting with local leaders, the NAACP and Kansas Representative Roger Elliott in regards to the comments Alford made.
“Leadership is a privilege, it’s not a right,” said Holder. “He has affected the scores of people who have fought to really heal racial wounds over the last 50 years.”
Holder believes that Alford has abused his privilege to lead and has recently sent a letter to House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., asking for Representative Alford to resign.
“I think that is the unfortunate reality of individuals that come from pockets of rural America who do not understand African-Americans because they are really out of touch with who we are,” explained Holder.
The Garden City Telegram published a video of Alford speaking at a public forum saying the following:
“One of the reasons why — I hate to say it — is the African-Americans, they were basically users and they responded the worst off to those drugs. It’s because of their character makeup — their genetics and that. And so basically what we’re trying to do, is we’re trying to do a complete reverse of the people not remembering what’s happened in the past.”
The video surfaced and began circulating through YouTube. Within days, Alford issued an apology saying:
“I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt.”
Holder, reflecting back on the closed-door meeting, says he is appreciative to be a part of a discussion in regards to this matter but he still believes Alford should resign.
“You have so dishonored that office and the privilege of serving. We think the only right thing to do is resign. We understand that he’s stepped down from some of the boards that he was chairing but still that’s not enough,” said Holder.
KSN reached out to Representative Alford multiple times but he did not return calls or emails. KSN also reached out to the speaker of the house as well as 20 other state representatives for comment on the latest request for Alford to resign. Those calls were either not returned or KSN was told “no comment.”