MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Republican Party is demanding an apology from state Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) over comments she made during a debate with Rep. Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham) on the House floor Tuesday.
During debate over his “parental rights” bill, Givan referenced the Jay-Z song, “The Story of O.J.,” which repeatedly uses a racial slur. Givan did not use that word during the debate.
Here is a portion of what she said:
“When you look in the mirror at yourself, you’re still one,” Givan said. “That’s “The story of O.J.” Light-skinned, dark-skinned, you still one.”
The ALGOP later called on Givan to apologize in a statement Thursday. Paschal said he thinks her comments were a racial attack on him.
“Being the only person of color in the Republican Party there in the legislature, I think she took direct aim at that,” Paschal said. “Anyone can see that her comments were not related to the bill.”
Givan denies any racial element to her remarks.
“‘Still one’ could mean a lot of things. I haven’t a clue what it means to so many people,” Givan said.
She said she’s referenced this song in the House before without issue and cannot see how it could have been interpreted that way.
“No, and the reason I cannot — I am a lover of the arts,” Givan said. “I believe that art is left for interpretation.”
Givan said she is unapologetic.
“They owe me an apology for even stooping so low as to ask me for an apology. I said what I said,” Givan said.
Paschal said legislative decorum was disrupted that day, and he thinks there may need to be action taken.
“I personally think she definitely crossed a line and violated Rule 50, but that’s up to our leadership,” Paschal said.
House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter wasn’t there Tuesday. His communications director said he is aware of it and does not have an official comment at this time.