Briskman, NAACP Demand Zurn Resign

Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) and the Loudoun NAACP are pushing for Treasurer H. Roger Zurn to resign amid outcry prompted a joke he posted on Facebook about plans to change the name of the Aunt Jemima brand of breakfast foods.

Zurn posted “Wondering if Aunt Jemima will change to Uncle Tom’s?” Wednesday evening before deleting the post minutes later. He has since apologized, calling it “a stupid joke.”

That post prompted backlash and statements from other elected officials and public figures condemning Zurn for the joke, including calls from Briskman and the Loudoun NAACP for Zurn, Loudoun’s longest-serving elected official, to resign.

“The argument that this is just a joke in poor taste and that his apology and removal of the joke should be enough is part of the slippery slope that has lead us to our current reckoning with structural racism as a nation,” the NAACP wrote in a statement. “Public officials should hold themselves to a higher standard. We should hold them to a higher standard. Dismissing racist comments as unfortunate gaffes creates the space that allows for racist attitudes and behaviors to grow. There is a direct line between ignoring racist jokes and the dehumanization of an entire group of American citizens that allows for their murder by agents of the state.”

The NAACP also questioned Zurn’s ability to serve minority populations as treasurer, and wrote Zurn “must resign immediately so that Loudoun can elect a Treasurer who thinks all Loudouners are worthy of respect.”

“The residents of Loudoun County deserve better representation from our leaders and should be able to trust that the officer who collects and invests county tax dollars is meting out his or her duties with integrity and without racial bias,” Briskman wrote in a statement.

She pointed out past instances in which Zurn has made jokes on social media that drew public backlash.

“Mr. Zurn should have learned from this and his many other blunders that brought community backlash,” Briskman wrote. “It is clear Mr. Zurn is not taking to heart the lessons from our past nor the atmosphere in our country today where thousands upon thousands are calling for racial justice in the face of systemic racism in all levels of government and society. If he cannot learn from his past mistakes and the loud and angry protesters who have been in the streets for the past three weeks, it is time for him to step down. 

Briskman said if Zurn does not resign, she would support an effort to recall him from office. To do so would require a petition to the Circuit Court with 11,310 signatures, 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in Zurn’s last election in 2019.

Zurn first stepped into elected office in 30 years ago after winning a special election in 1990 to take the Sterling District seat on the Board of Supervisors.

The Quaker Oats Company, which owns the Aunt Jemima brand, and which is itself owned by PepsiCo, announced Wednesday it would change the name and imagery of the brand. The Aunt Jemima imagery and brand is based on a racist “mammy” stereotype of black women dating back to at least the 1800s. “Uncle Tom” is an epithet originating from title character of the 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an enslaved person, and refers to a black person who is exceedingly subservient, particularly because of his or her race.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

14 thoughts on “Briskman, NAACP Demand Zurn Resign

  • 2020-06-18 at 6:33 pm
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    Zurn gives 38 years of service to Loudoun County and makes one mistake and you want to him to resign? I guess Briskman does not read the bible…let the first person who is perfect be the first to cast the first stone. NAACP is headed by Pastor Michelle Thomas. If she is REALLY a minister where is her forgiveness. Did you not forgive Ralph Northam after he appeared with shoe polish on his face? Yes Zurn made a mistake, but we ALL makes mistakes. I am sure Briskam and Thomas have made mistakes. If we don’t allow our public officials to make a mistake, who will ever run for office??

    • 2020-06-19 at 7:32 pm
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      Briskman is the pig who flipped off President Trump’s motocade and took $180,000.00 plus in a go fund me account. Briskman is the one who should be recalled!

      As for Mr. Zurn, shame on you BUT, the first amendment is still alive and well in America and Mr. Zurn can say whatever he wants to say as long as it is not criminal or actionable. Zurn’s statement were neither criminal or actionable – just a really dumb thing to say!

      As for Mr. Zurn – the voters will decide in 3 years, 4 months from now if he is to be returned to office or not. Mr. Zurn has apologized. That’s really all he can do! I accept that and I bet Mr. Zurn will not be posting anything else on his Facebook’s account.

    • 2020-06-19 at 9:23 pm
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      The article notes several racist posts. Imagine how many he’s made that weren’t recorded for public consumption.

  • 2020-06-18 at 7:57 pm
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    I am proud to be a member of the NAACP. And I applaud Ms. Briskman for having the courage to stand for what is right. Zurn is paid $180,000 by hardworking citizens of all races and genders. We do not have to take his abuse.

  • 2020-06-19 at 10:47 am
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    Same standards should apply. Please go ask Briskman and the NAACP for a comment on a Governor who wears blackface and a Lt. Governor accused of rape. Equal = equal.

  • 2020-06-19 at 2:56 pm
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    LoudounNow, like many new organizations don’t do research.. Aunt Jemima is NOT “based on a racist “mammy” stereotype of black women dating back to at least the 1800s” It is based on Nancy Green, She was born into slavery near Mount Sterling in 1834, and at age 56, she was hired to become one of advertising’s first living trademarks. A good cook and storyteller, she drew big crowds when she launched the pancake mix at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. She traveled the country as a popular brand ambassador until she was killed in a car wreck in 1923.

    Read more here: https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/community/article44153517.html#storylink=cpy

    • 2020-06-19 at 2:58 pm
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      I’d like to also add that there is no courage here for calling out someone who wrote something online in bad taste and deleted it shortly after realizing their mistake. Get a grip Loudoun activist.

    • 2020-06-19 at 9:28 pm
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      And she couldn’t vote, couldn’t take public transportation, couldn’t eat at the restaurant of her choosing, couldn’t drink out of certain water fountains, couldn’t attend the public school of her choice, etc. etc. etc.

      Yet she COULD be marketed by white-owned companies to push their product.

  • 2020-06-19 at 5:58 pm
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    HYPOCRITES – that’s what you call two faced politicians and organization leaders. Supervisor Juli E. Briskman and Reverend Thomas, where were you when Democrat Governor “Coonman” Northam was outed as an outright racist. They support a Democrat Governor who was pictured in a KKK hood with a nick name of “Coonman” but demands that Roger Zurn to resign because of an ill-conceived joke.

    Stop being divisive, you lost the moral high ground when you did not demand that Democrat Governor “Coonman” Notham immediately resign. I guess since he is a Democrat its ok to be a racist.

  • 2020-06-20 at 5:27 pm
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    Less than a year of Briskman on the job and we realize how good we had it with Suzanne Volpe as our Supervisor.

  • 2020-06-22 at 4:09 pm
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    When Northam, Fairfax and Herring resign then come talk to me about Roger Zurn. If Democrats didn’t have double standards they’d have no standards at all.

  • 2020-06-25 at 8:07 pm
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    Did Briskman demand that Governor Blackface or is it Governor KKK resign? Did she demand Attorney General Blackface Herring resign? In the ideological left mind of Briskman, one’s party equates to punishment. So Zurn’s comments mean he resigns, but Northam and Herring’s action mean they should not? Besides being mentally disingenuous, Briskman is a proven hypocrite. Typical democrat.

  • 2020-06-27 at 7:36 pm
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    I am with those who don’t brand a person or tar and feather them because of a stupid comment. I have known Roger Zurn since he served as a member of the Board of Supervisors in the early 1990’s. He has always been a dedicated, honest public servant and a man of integrity. By his own words he made a wisecrack, talked to a member of his staff who made him realize it was hurtful, and retracted it. Of course, in the short time it was up, someone took a screen shot of it and turned it into a major incident. Both political parties are guilty of enormous hypocrisy in calling each other out for real or imagined wrongs in these heated times, but I support Roger Zurn’s decision not to resign. In a few years if the voters feel strongly about it they can turn him out, that’s the way the system works.

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