Sen. Janet Greenip, a Crofton Republican, has incensed Anne Arundel County's black community by saying that African-Americans are "overrepresented" on the county school board and lobbying the governor to appoint a white Davidsonville mother to the board.
The senator's comment to The Capital newspaper came at a time when African-Americans were upset that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. bypassed a black college administrator and appointed former PTA President Tricia Johnson, Greenip's candidate, to the seat.
Charlestine Fairley, director of Sojourner-Douglass College's Annapolis campus, had received the most votes at the county's nominating convention - an event for which the black community turned out in large numbers. Johnson came in second. Both names were forwarded to Ehrlich, who announced his decision June 12.
Greenip said she supported Johnson, who was an officer in the Republican National Committee in the 1970s, because of her involvement in her five children's schools.
The senator told the newspaper that Johnson would bring "parity" to the board. African-Americans "are very much overrepresented right now if you're going by representation and balance, things like that," Greenip was quoted as saying.
Three African-Americans are on the eight-member board. With the departure of Vice President Carlesa Finney at the end of the month, there will be two - Eugene Peterson and Tony Spencer. Blacks make up 20 percent of the county's 75,000- student population and 13.6 percent of the general population, according to recent state and federal counts.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Arundel chapter criticized her remarks and demanded an apology. "It really struck a nerve when I heard that," said Gerald Stansbury, president of the chapter. "We would not like to think that, in public, our government thinks one way, but in their hearts they see African-Americans as second-class citizens."
Greenip said Friday that she plans to personally apologize to Stansbury. "I just want to talk to him to make sure that we understand each other," Greenip said.
"I just put my foot in my mouth, basically," she said.
Peterson called for Greenip to publicly apologize during a General Assembly session. "If she doesn't, I think she should be censured," he said. "Nobody in public office should be allowed to say those things and be allowed to go unscathed."
Greenip said race was not among her reasons for backing Johnson.