Amid calls for resignation, Virginia delegate regrets ‘colored’ remark

Amid calls for resignation from Loudoun County supervisors and the NAACP, Virginia Del. Dave LaRock said he regrets using the word “colored” when he suggested that his critics focus on the business of the county and its minority community.

On Wednesday, LaRock, who represents portions of Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties, sent a fundraising email and posted on Facebook and Twitter a column entitled: “Dems want me out — NAACP says RESIGN! What say you?”

Referring to Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, Supervisor Juli Briskman, and NAACP Loudoun Branch President Michelle Thomas, LaRock wrote: “Rather than focusing on the business of Loudoun County and the needs of the colored community, they are wasting their time and taxpayer resources to attack me.”

Randall, Briskman and Thomas earlier called for LaRock to resign, citing his support for President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud.

Wednesday evening, after the Loudoun Times-Mirror reported LaRock’s use of the term, his blog was edited. The phrase “colored community” was changed to “minorities in the community.”

LaRock told WTOP that in the last day, “I have been educated that it is not appropriate to use the same name used in the NAACP.”

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has, for decades, referred to itself primarily as the NAACP, as the descriptor became more dated.

LaRock, who was first elected to the General Assembly in 2013, has appealed to conservative voters on issues, and he often aligns himself with Trump.

LaRock said he had not known the weight the outdated term carried, when asked why he chose to use it when it was offensive to many people.

“I was completely unaware and caught off-guard that it was offensive. I would not have used it if I had known,” LaRock said.

LaRock was asked, with a sizable amount of incredulity, whether it was believable that an educated, elected official, in his 60s, could be unaware that the term “colored” was offensive to many people.

“I’m mildly offended that you don’t take what I say to be truthful, but I’ll get over it,” LaRock said. “I was trying to use a phrase that’s current or not objectionable. Is ‘people of color’ OK?”

LaRock said he had chosen the word, in part, because he had heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. use it.

“If I had been aware it was offensive, I wouldn’t have used it,” LaRock said. “I certainly wouldn’t send out a mass email containing a phrase that I knew to be offensive.”

Asked if he believed an apology was warranted, LaRock said he had left a voicemail for Thomas, in hopes of speaking with her.

As to whether he owed an apology to constituents and others offended by his use of the term, LaRock said, “I regret I was unaware.”

In reflecting upon the current scrutiny of his word choice, LaRock acknowledged he should have listened to an adviser — his wife.

“We sit around and I read her the posts, and she gives her opinion. She said, ‘Dave, I’m not sure if that’s still the appropriate word.’ I told her I didn’t know how it could be wrong and went with it.”

“I should have listened to my wife,” he concluded.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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