WASHINGTON - The head of a civil rights and legal services advocacy group wants Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) to apologize for saying he wouldn't be upset if he could be known as the second black president.
"John Kerry is not a black man — he is a privileged white man who has no idea what it is in this country to be a poor white in this country, let alone a black man," said Paula Diane Harris, founder of the Andrew Young National Center for Social Change.
Last week, Kerry told the American Urban Radio Network: "President Clinton (news - web sites) was often known as the first black president. I wouldn't be upset if I could earn the right to be the second."
Kerry's spokesman Chad Clanton said: "This was intended as a light-natured remark about President Clinton's strong legacy with African Americans It is a legacy that John Kerry would like to build upon if elected president. John Kerry has a record of fighting for civil rights and as president he will continue this fight."
Harris also criticized civil rights leaders who "sit back and ignore these types of comments, a practice that further insults African Americans."
"It seems that all these leaders care about is their personal agendas in how a 'John Kerry' will keep up their personal causes," she said.
The Andrew Young National Center for Social Change, based in Harrisburg, Pa., provides legal services to the poor.