During a political debate at a Louisiana HBCU, a white mayoral candidate allegedly used the N-word shortly after referring on stage to Black people as Negroes.
Anna Marie Arpino, a 60-year-old candidate for Shreveport mayor, denied on Friday that she used the N-word in a heated exchange with a Black woman after the Thursday night event at Southern University Shreveport, the Shreveport Times reported.
Arpino’s troubles that night began with her response to a question that any candidate running for mayor should be prepared to answer: How will you work with the city council to make your vision for the city happen?
Her response to that question included a story about returning to segregated classrooms in Shreveport after attending diverse schools near the District of Columbia, where she supposedly learned to value diversity.
“And then I came back to Shreveport, Louisiana, (and) went to school here. (I) came back to my mother and said what’s wrong with these people? I have two Negroes — which is what they were called then — and one Asian and the whole school is upside down,” she recalled on the stage, sitting alongside five other candidates.
The moderator asked Arpino to be respectful of the community after audience members and several candidates—three of them African-American—groaned at the remark, according to KBTS-TV. Arpino defensively asked the moderator why she was the only candidate getting lectured.
A young Black woman confronted Arpino after the debate. Representatives from the college told the Times that the woman and witnesses alleged that Arpino used the N-word in a heated argument, which the candidate denied.
Arpino accused one of her rivals for office, Caddo Parish Commissioner Steven Jackson, of setting her up and using the incident to smear her reputation among Black voters.
Jackson denied her allegations and added, “Her comments were very uncomfortable and (she) owes the community an apology at the least.”