Mayor Ray Nagin (WWL-TV, New Orleans)

After widespread criticism, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin apologized for comments made yesterday during a Martin Luther King Day Rally, including his vow that the city would remain “chocolate,” or majority African-American, as it rebuilds from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin said he only wanted to comfort black residents who felt unwanted during the rebuilding process, according to WWL-TV in New Orleans.

“I apologize to any resident in this city that may have been offended,” the mayor said. “That was not my intention. If I could take anything back, I thought the Uptown comment was inappropriate. If any people are working hard to rebuild this city, it’s the people Uptown.”

Nagin said in his speech, referring to the white-majority area, “I don’t care what people are saying Uptown, or wherever they are, this city will be chocolate at the end of the day.”

Nagin also said it was inappropriate for him to invoke God in his speech.

Yesterday, the mayor said Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that “God is mad at America” and at black communities for violent division and political infighting.

“Surely God is mad at America,” Nagin said. “He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it’s destroyed and put stress on this country.

“Surely he doesn’t approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We’re not taking care of ourselves.”

Explaining his remarks today, Nagin said, “Unfortunately, everything I say today is scrutinized to the nth degree.”

“It was Martin Luther King’s birthday,” he said. “I thought it was appropriate to address some of the concerns and frustrations I’m hearing from the African-American community.”

On Fox News Channel’s “DaySide” program today, Nagin explained, “I used some analogies and probably didn’t hit the mark on my message, but I never intended to offend anyone, and I think if they look at the entire context of what I said they’ll understand the points I was trying to make.”

Nagin said that if he could take anything back, it would be the “God comment.”

“That was a private conversation I had with a minister a couple of weeks ago, and for some reason at the moment that came forth,” he said.

Montel Williams, a guest on “DaySide” during the Nagin interview, praised the mayor for admitting his remarks were a mistake and wondered why the same criticism directed at Nagin didn’t go to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. In a speech yesterday, the Democratic senator compared the way the Republican Party runs the House of Representatives to a “plantation.”

“I’m still waiting to hear somebody comment about what [Clinton] meant by ‘plantation’ on Martin Luther King’s birthday,” Williams said.

Related column:

Mayor Chocolate Nagin: America’s flavorite racist


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