1.18.2006

In Hot Chocolate over Remarks, Nagin Offers Mea Culpa

New Orleans Mayor Sorry for 'Chocolate' Remark

from Reuters

NEW ORLEANS - The mayor of New Orleans apologized Tuesday for saying the hurricane-ravaged city would be rebuilt as a "chocolate" city and for blaming the storm on the wrath of God over U.S. involvement in Iraq.

In his speech Monday, marking the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Nagin said: "This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be...This city will be chocolate at the end of the day."

The "chocolate" remark struck a nerve, as racial tensions and concerns loom over proposed plans to rebuild New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Several of the hardest-hit neighborhoods were mostly black, and many residents have expressed fears that those areas will not be rebuilt while those with more white residents may be. Before the August 29 storm, New Orleans was about 70 percent black.

"If I offended anyone, I sincerely apologize," the mayor, who is black, said Tuesday. "I need to be more sensitive and more aware of what I'm saying.

In his speech, Nagin also said a wrathful God sent the hurricanes.

"Surely God is mad at America," he said. "Surely he's not approving of us being in Iraq under false pretense. But surely he's upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."

In his apology, Nagin said: "I said some things that were totally inappropriate. I shouldn't have made any references to God as it relates to this city. In the moment I got caught up, and it shouldn't have happened."

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