Published September 11, 2009
A group of black newspaper publishers on Friday charged Republican Rep. Joe Wilson with racism for yelling, "You lie," at President Obama during his nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) has canceled a planned January conference in South Carolina, where Wilson is a representative, and joined an economic boycott of the Palmetto State started 10 years ago by the state NAACP in protest of the confederate flag waving from the Statehouse grounds.
Wilson shouted his accusation Wednesday night in response to Obama saying that his health care reform plan would not cover illegal immigrants. Wilson, who drew sharp criticism from both sides of the political fence for the breach in decorum, immediately apologized to Obama and the president accepted. But House Democrats are pressing Wilson to apologize on the House floor or face disciplinary action.
The latest fallout from Wilson's outburst, however, is the first time race has been injected into the controversy.
"As African-American newspaper publishers we stand in solidarity with the NAACP and fully support the economic boycott of South Carolina," NNPA Chairman Danny J. Bakewell Sr. said. "Rep. Wilson's remarks were racist, disrespectful, and a disingenuous violation -- not only of President Obama -- but to the institution of the presidency and only solidified our position and the importance in not spending black dollars where black people are not respected.
"The continued public and blatant disrespect of President Barack Obama by members of Congress will not be rewarded with our dollars nor will a state that continues to uphold America's shameful past by flying the Confederate flag," he added.
Wilson's office could not be reached for comment Friday.
Established 69 years ago, the NNPA includes 200 black community newspapers across the country.
The NAACP boycott has reportedly had mixed results, with some saying it has cut into tourism and affected state beaches, restaurants and motels, among other businesses, and others saying it has only hurt black-owned businesses in the state.
In July, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced it would not hold its post-season baseball tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in deference to the NAACP boycott.