Va. school board member asked to resign over racist Michelle Obama emails

School board member Herb DeGroft says the emails were meant to be "political" and not racist

By Katie McDonough

Published May 31, 2013 4:57PM (EDT)

Michelle Obama               (AP/M. Spencer Green)
Michelle Obama (AP/M. Spencer Green)

A Virginia school board has called for the resignation of one of its members over racist emails he sent from his board email account.

According to NBC12, Herb DeGroft forwarded his colleagues emails featuring images of topless African women and racially loaded references to first lady Michelle Obama. Board members have reported receiving other offensive emails from DeGroft beginning in January 2012.

DeGroft says the emails were meant to be "political" and not racist, and thinks that forwarding offensive emails isn't quite the same thing as originating an offensive email chain, apparently: "None of them I initiated, if you look at them. They were all initiated by somebody else," he told the Daily Press. DeGroft sent the emails in question to Vice Chairman Byron Bailey, who went on to share them with other county staff.

In addition to a 4-to-1 vote by school board members calling on DeGroft to resign, Isle of Wight NAACP Chapter president Dottie Harris and other community members have pressured him to give up his seat and threatened a recall effort against Bailey.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

MORE FROM Katie McDonoughFOLLOW kmcdonovgh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Education Michelle Obama Racism Racists Schools Virginia