Reynolds' racial remarks stun forum audience

CHAMPAIGN – The Republican candidate for state Senate in the 52nd District said Wednesday night that black men "find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education."

Al Reynolds, 65, of Danville made the remarks at a candidate forum at the Champaign City Building. The forum was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Champaign County NAACP.

Reynolds' comments came in response to a question about increasing the number of black and Latino students at the University of Illinois.

"I've been in the city and the dichotomy of the women and the men in the minorities, there is a difference in the fact that most minority women, either the single parent or coming from a poor neighborhood, are motivated more so than the minority men," he said. "And it's a pretty good reason. Most of the women who are single parents have to find work to support their family. The minority men find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education. It's easier.

"We need to provide ways that are more incentive, other than just sports avenues, for the men for the minorities to want to go to college and get an education and better themselves before the women have to support them all."

The audience, which at that time numbered only about 25, seemed stunned.

A few minutes later Reynolds' opponent, state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, addressed his opponents' comments.

"I've been in this community for a long time now. I've been working in this community for a long time and I've worked with a lot of African-American men. They're not pursuing careers in sports. They're not trying to sell drugs. They're trying to support their families. They're trying to be good people," he said.

"I've attended church around here. There are good families around here. There are some obstacles placed in their way and the state needs to tear them down. But I've met a lot of good people in this area and I don't think we should stereotype them all like that."

Frerichs' remarks received sustained applause from the audience, which included a number of African-Americans.

After the forum had ended, Reynolds repeated his comments.

"Look at the number of black men who opt out of getting a job and opt out of higher education. They don't even make it out of high school because the lucrative drug trade is so rampant that it's just easy for them to fall into that. What are the avenues for the black man to get out of the ghetto? He becomes a star athlete or he does drugs. I mean very few men of the black race get out of that ghetto through education. The women do. The women do because, number one, they're forced to because they don't have anybody to take care of them. They do a good job. A lot of the women are very good about getting out and getting an education. The men just have a more ... you know, the lure of high money because it's high money in drugs without having to pay the price of going to school."

Reynolds is the former head of the East Central Illinois Tea Party. He became the Republican nominee by way of a write-in campaign last spring.


Comments for this post are read only.

adamb2000 wrote on October 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

What an idiot. The guy had approximately 0% chance of winning to begin with, but things like this are NOT the way to engender support among the electorate. Way to pick strong candidates, area Republican officials. When the party doesn't push a candidate, we end up with candidates like this. I guess that pretty much solves that race by default. Will be interesting to see how many Republicans even vote against this guy, or just don't vote.

shearerbliss wrote on October 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

Why is someone asking to increase the minority attendance at a University. Shouldn't that be based on the academic ability? Sorry, but part of me DOES agree with his statement. I see plenty of young men BOTH white and black out roaming streets dressed like, well, drug dealers. Being a single mother myself, doing what I can to support my children, we have no choice but to "step up".

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

Is anyone really surprised that a 'tea party' Republican would be such a troglodyte? These are the ideological descendants of the Birchers. The 'tea party' rallies are overwhelmingly made up of older white people with antiquated views on race and society. It's not just some weird coincidence that very few young and non white people attend their rallies; most people find their view repugnant.

I wouldn't be surprised if Reynolds is also a birther.

ronaldo wrote on October 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

A lot of name-calling there O'Connor - typical of your bantor - and you don't know jack about him other than what was printed here.

I'm not going to comment on this incident until I hear more, but if he's wrong, show us some statistics, oh holier-than-thou. I won't be holding my breath waiting on you.

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

Nice personal attack. Exactly what kinds of stats are you looking for? Are you saying you agree with Reynolds that black men shun education in favor of drugs and sports?

ronaldo wrote on October 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Nice try, but attempting to turn the tables won't work. No personal attack, and certainly that was not what I was saying. Hint: read my post.

Strike two. Just the stats, please.

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I was simply calling out your hypocrisy for chastising me for name calling and then personally attacking me. Then would you please indicate what the point of your comment was if it was not to express agreement with Reynolds. Are you saying you disagree with Reynolds? Whichever your position is, will you please state it unambiguously?

bluegrass wrote on October 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Reynolds' stupid, racist comments have provided an opportunity for some to overuse words like troglodyte and uneducated and uninformed. Enjoy it, because in spite of the words of one individual the tide is turning away from the left wing ideology and empty promises of hope and change, and back to the roots this country was founded on and has prospered under. The free for all spending habits of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid regime, and hopefully of the Quinn/Madigan/Cullterton trio are going to be put into check very shortly.

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Well, it's hardly the just one individual when it comes to 'tea party' Republicans. Carl Paladino sends incredibly racist emails. Jim Russell supports eugenics and decries 'race mixing.' Rich Iota dresses up in waffen ss uniforms and says we can't judge the nazis because 'we weren't there.' The Virginia Beach GOP head just resigned for a vile racist email. Our own 'tea party' Republican mayor believes that our first biracial president 'isn't an American.' Look at the comment section of pretty much any article involving race. The list is virtually endless.

Again, there's a reason the 'tea party' Republicans are overwhelmingly older white people.

bluegrass wrote on October 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

What is the reason?

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Reread my first paragraph.

bluegrass wrote on October 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Okay, I re-read it. Ugh, troglodyte again. I still don't understand why there is a reason that tea partiers are older white people. Perhaps you could expand on that.... you know, help out the uneducated.

ronaldo wrote on October 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

He can't. I'm 37 and I was clearly in the older half of those in attendance.

O'Connor just likes belittling those that he a) knows nothing about and b) disagrees with. Look at the history of his posts. He "claimed" on other posts to have stopped by the rallies, but had he done that he woudln't be making flagrantly irresponsible and ignorant comments. It's just his little attempt in his own little corner of the world at trying minimize the damage that's going to be incurred on Nov. 2nd

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Ronaldo, you don't know what you're talking about. I was at the last two 'tea party' Republican rallies. At the last one, I filmed our 'teaparty' Republican mayor claiming that Obama is not an American. And you know that the overwhelming majority of attendees were older white people. To claim otherwise a blatant rejection of reality.

Bluegrass, the majority of 'tea party' attendees and members are older white people, as I'm sure you know is my contention despite your disingenuous play at ignorance, is that younger people and non white people recognize and reject the racism that underlies so much of the 'tea party' movement.

I'm not sure why you're obsessing with my use of the term 'troglodyte.'

bluegrass wrote on October 21, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Racism is not the underlying theme in the tea party movement. The theme is putting an end to tax and spend government completely out of control to the tune of trillions of dollars, that is bankrupting the state of IL and the country. I know that the success of a grassroots political movement uncontrolled by some sort of organization or the media makes people like you and Bill Maher angry and nervous. Look at it this way, you have something in common with Karl Rove. That should ease the pain a little, right?

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Also, when I suggested you reread my first paragraph, I was referring to the comment you replied to. The one describing the vile and repugnant racist behavior and words of a lot of 'tea party' Republicans such as Paladino, Russell, Iott and so on...

Keith Hays wrote on October 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

I know a black young man who is attending Eastern Illinois University. Yes, he chose that school because of an opportunity to play football - not because he saw a career in athletics, but because he loves the sport. This year he left the football team because he wanted to concentrate on academics to better prepare himself for the career path he has chosen as a wildlife biologist. His older sister is a junior at Yale and will follow a career in public service. Both are graduates of Champaign's Central High School. Neither have ever been involved in the drug culture and neither have their friends. She is not a single mom. He is not a drug dealer. They just don't fit Mr. Reynold's stereotypes.

Mr. Reynolds should reflect on the fact that according to the US Department of Labor unemployment among 16 to 20 year olds is at an all time high of about 25% - among black teenagers it is 48%. Those young people are not among those who fit Mr. Reynolds stereotypes either. In order to be counted as "unemployed" you have to be actively seeking a job.

I know a White young man who is a first semester junior at the University of Illinois. He is a transfer student, having just graduated from Parkland college. He is strongly considering dropping out because he is caught in the recession driven budget crunch cutbacks decimating financial aid. He just can't afford the cost of continuing his education without help. His concerns is shared by thousand of students and potential college students both White and Black.

Does Mr. Reynolds want to slam the doors on these kids and kids like them? We need to open doors not close them. We need to seek ways to assist young people - not excuses to blame them for the closing college door.

jthartke wrote on October 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

This is far from the first time a "Tea Party" activist has used extremely uneducated, racist rhetoric. The mayor's comments at the Champaign Tea Party regarding whether the President is an American are another extremely local example. And they wonder why the media and progressives are starting to question their motives...

So much for trying to bill our community as a great place to bring your modern business and raise your kids.

Mqqneyes wrote on October 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Not a big surprise coming from a guy with the platform of bringing back the chief. Don't get me wrong, I could care less if the chief is here or not. But the fact that a man that has only lived here for three years would use peoples heart strings to get votes is just wrong. The community that he is from (Danville) will not improve by him spending time trying to revive the chief.

buzorro wrote on October 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm
jerrysbear wrote on October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I am as far left a democrat as it gets and I have to agree with Reynolds. For us to correct the problems of the ghetto, we first must recognize what is happening and Reynolds has. It is not a black thing which many people are saying on this board, but a poor thing. It just so happens many blacks are poor. By pretending that many young poor men do not choose to concentrate on sports or go the drug game route because it seems to be their easiest way to get rich, we will never construct any programs that will provide education as an equally appealing option. A first step we can take is to federalize all public school funding so poor communities have just as nice of public schools as middle class and wealthy communities. I am just guessing that this is not a position that Reynolds and other tea partiers support.

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I agree that it is about class and unequal school funding rather than about race. But Reynolds didn't say that, did he. Instead, he focused solely on race. Clearly, race and class are frequently correlated but his limited position lacks your wider and more realistic perspective. What about all the white, Asian, latino and native kids who don't pursue academics. Your proposal of federalizing education funding is great and I completely agree with you. But I think you're right when you say that few, if any, 'tea party' supporters would support that idea.

Robeman1957 wrote on October 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I'll admit I wasn't there to hear what was actually said. But in the article the word black is not in quotation marks. What is quoted by the reporter is "minorities". Do the "Asian,latino and native kids who don't pursue academics" fall into that group? Could it be that the way the story is presented attributes words to Reynolds that he didn't really say? Or does that possibility not fit your perception. Just asking.

John O'Connor wrote on October 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Uh, from the second to last paragraph of this article:

""Look at the number of black men who opt out of getting a job and opt out of higher education. They don't even make it out of high school because the lucrative drug trade is so rampant that it's just easy for them to fall into that. What are the avenues for the black man to get out of the ghetto? He becomes a star athlete or he does drugs. I mean very few men of the black race get out of that ghetto through education.."

I'm not sure how it 'fits your perception' that he wasn't referring, explicitly and repeatedly, to black men.

Robeman1957 wrote on October 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I apologize. I should have taken more time to read the article instead of skimming it. Given that he is quoted as he is at the end I can find no excuse for these remarks. He should withdraw from the election.

mankind wrote on October 21, 2010 at 10:10 pm

The retort by Mike Frerichs is equally delusional. The truth is that black males commit crime at higher rates than other racial groups and if we weren't all being censored by the PC police we could have a candid conversation about why that is. Al Reynolds had a valid point but he made the mistake of speaking about a minority group in general terms. If he had tossed in a conditional phrase like "some" maybe we could be having a meaningful conversation instead of playing gotcha. In liberal America the line between reason and finger-waving is thin. At least Al Reynolds seems to be concerned with addressing a problem in the black community, unlike Frerichs who finds it more beneficial to pretend the problem doesn't exist.

sahuoy wrote on October 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Just put his comments into perspective. What he said is true to a point. He was wrong to refer to all and should have been more specific with percentages. The same applies with all others. There is nothing racist about what he said, its fact, he just failed to quatify the percentages and all races of peoples. I'm tired of oh, the african-american blah blah blah, forsaking all others. If I were only a black female, then would I have the government backing to be all I could be.