Lawmaker Calls Black Activist "Buckwheat"

Black and white profiles
AP
A white state lawmaker in a runoff election called a black civil-rights veteran who had helped her campaign "Buckwheat," angering the NAACP, which urged voters to kick her out of office.

Rep. Carla Blanchard Dartez, a Democrat, acknowledged that she ended a Thursday night conversation with Hazel Boykin by saying, "Talk to you later, Buckwheat." Dartez had been thanking Boykin for driving voters to the polls.

Buckwheat, a black child character in the "Little Rascals" comedies of the 1930s and '40s, is viewed as a racial stereotype.

Boykin, 75, helped desegregate restaurants and the parish school system in the 1960s. Her son, Jerome, is president of the Terrebonne Parish chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"I've never had no one talk to me that way, and I considered it a racial slur," Hazel Boykin said. "I know the meaning of it; it's just like the N-word."

On Monday, Jerome Boykin held a news conference asking voters to cast ballots against Dartez, who faces Republican Joe Harrison in Saturday's runoff.

"The NAACP is going to do all it can to see that she is not re-elected," he said. "At this point, the NAACP is not concerned about the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. If a Republican is elected because of her racist remarks, that's her responsibility."

Dartez did not immediately return a call Monday.

"I made an insensitive comment, and I regret my choice of words," she said Friday. "I have apologized to both Hazel and Jerome Boykin. The Boykin family has been a huge help in my campaign for re-election, and I did not mean to offend them."

But Hazel Boykin said Dartez still has not personally apologized.

Dartez has represented parts of Terrebonne, St. Mary and Assumption parishes since 1999. She has said she does not intend to drop out of the race.