Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday stood by remarks he made a day earlier that were critical of black civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis.

“I will tell you, there are no apologies,” LePage told a reporter from WGME-TV on Wednesday at the State House. “As a matter of fact, I would tell the NAACP they need to apologize to the northern white people who fought and gave their lives to free them.”

LePage made his initial comments about Lewis during his weekly appearance on the George Hale and Ric Tyler Show on Bangor-based radio station WVOM. The governor was reacting to the Georgia Democrat’s decision to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday because he didn’t believe Trump was a “legitimate president.”

“I will just say this: John Lewis ought to look at history,” LePage told WVOM. “It was Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves, it was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant who fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple thank you would suffice.”

Jim Crow laws didn’t exist until after Grant left office in 1877. Hayes set the stage for their creation when he agreed to pull Northern occupying troops out of the South in return for the support of southern states in his tight presidential race.

State Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Portland branch of the NAACP, issued a statement Tuesday evening asking the governor to apologize for his remarks. Talbot Ross had attended a dinner the night before in Portland to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day .


“Therefore, it is so troubling, the day after such an inspirational gathering, to once again hear Gov. LePage display such staggering ignorance of our nation’s history with his remarks that demeaned the NAACP, the Civil Rights movement and legendary Civil Rights Champion, Congressman John Lewis,” Talbot Ross said in the statement.

“Governor LePage, as the spokesman for our state must apologize to the nation for his intentional disrespect and blatant ignorance. Congressman Lewis does not need to ‘learn his history’ – he already made history by marching at Selma, working alongside Dr. King and serving in Congress for three decades.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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