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A Kansas official in Leavenworth County is facing calls to apologize and resign after he told a Black woman at a county commission meeting that he was part of the “master race” and she shouldn’t “forget that.”
According to local news station KSHB, county commissioner Louis Klemp made the comment on Tuesday, as the woman representing an architecture firm presented a land-use study to the commission.
At one point during her presentation, Klemp told the woman, who is Black, “I don’t want you to think I am picking on you because we are part of the master race. You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race, don’t you forget that.”
According to CBS affiliate KCTV5, the woman did not want to be identified and asked not to be a part of the story. Another commissioner, however, is demanding that Klemp apologize to the county and that he resign.
“What’s this master race? None of us are a master race. We are all Americans, we are all human beings,” Bob Holland, the criticizing commissioner, told KCTV5 on Wednesday. “I think he is a racist. I do. I think he owes an apology to that woman. I think he owes an apology to the whole commission. And the county.”
Holland went on to tell KSHB that he was worried about Leavenworth County’s reputation because of Klemp’s actions.
“I’m ashamed of one of our commissioners and what he has done. We shouldn’t be labeled as Leavenworth County, the racist county,” Holland said. “That’s the way I feel we are being labeled.”
When confronted by KSHB at his home, Klemp reportedly implied that his comment was a “joke.” However, he’s not issuing an apology and stated that he had referred to both himself and the Black presenter as the “master race,” because they both have a gap in their teeth.
This apparently wasn’t Klemp’s first foray into racist territory, either. Last year, during a meeting about the county’s holiday schedule, Klemp called Robert E. Lee a “wonderful part of history.” He also criticized the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. amid the absence of a day celebrating George Washington. (If this “master race” genius over here would, say, do a quick Google search or crack open a book, or perhaps if he attended kindergarten at a public school, he would see that nationally George Washington is still celebrated on Presidents’ Day in February, and that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is in January; Mississippi and Alabama observe MLK with Lee, of all people.) That time, Klemp reportedly issued an apology.
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If Holland has an issue with the county inaccurately being called racist, however, he might want to do a bit more investigation into the process that allowed Klemp to serve on the commission in the first place. Klemp wasn’t voted into office but was appointed by the committee after another commissioner resigned for health reasons. Klemp’s last day in office is Jan. 15.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.