Alabama lawmaker uses racist slur in recorded council meeting, faces calls to resign

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

An Alabama lawmaker is facing calls to resign after using the N-word during a council meeting Monday night.

Video of the meeting posted to the Tarrant, Alabama, Facebook page shows City Council member John “Tommy” Bryant standing up, pointing at a Black councilwoman and asking: "Do we have a house N-word in here? Would she please stand up?"

Residents can be heard gasping.

In a statement following the meeting, Alabama Democrats called for Bryant to resign.

"He is racist and unfit to serve," the statement said.

"Alabama still has a long way to go when it comes to race, but cozying up to the KKK and using the N-word should make you unfit to serve," the statement continued. "These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer's payroll."

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said in a statement that the party "is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant. Such language is completely unacceptable in any setting, and even more concerning coming from an elected official."

"The comments made at the Tarrant city council meeting have no place in government leadership, and if they reflect the opinion of Tommy Bryant he should immediately step down," Wahl said.

Waynette Bonham, a Tarrant resident who was at the meeting, also said Bryant should resign.

"This is not who we need representing us at any capacity," she told NBC News.

Bonham, who is Black, said Bryant's outburst was in response to her questioning him about why his wife had repeatedly used the word in Facebook posts.

Screenshots appear to show Nancy Bryant writing in the posts that Tarrant Mayor Wayman Newton had used the phrase "house N-word" when referring to a Black council member. While an expletive is not spelled out in the post, the N-word is.

Bonham said if Newton, who is Black, used the slur, it was in private.

"I cannot say if he did or did not," Bonham said. "However, two wrongs do not make a right and the comfort level that the Bryants have using the word so freely is a problem."

Bryant did not respond to NBC News' requests for comment Wednesday.

In an interview with NBC affiliate WVTM of Birmingham Tuesday, Bryant stood by using the word.

"I thought the city ought to know the type of terminology the mayor uses, and I didn’t want him to get away with it so that’s the reason I made that comment," Bryant said. "If I had let it go and sugar-coated it, we would not be having this conversation right now."

Bryant also admitted to calling Newton, who is the first Black mayor in Tarrant, a "little boy."

When asked if he is racist, he responded: "What the public’s definition is, I might be a racist but according to what the true meaning of the word racist is, absolutely not."

In Monday's meeting, Bryant also referred to the LGBTQ community as "LGBT-whatever."

He then called a Buddhist constituent a Muslim, and went on to say that Muslims believe that "if you're not Muslim, their religion says they need to kill you."

Bonham said Bryant does not reflect Tarrant, a city about six miles north of Birmingham.

"We are not the Mayberry community people try to make us out to be," said Bonham, who identifies as nonbinary. "We aren't black and white. We are a full rainbow. And that's just my street."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting