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Rep. Juandalynn Givan blasts GOP colleague for ‘lies’ in aftermath of racially charged dispute


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Published: May. 09, 2023, 9:53 p.m.


A controversy involving race and party politics that surfaced in the Alabama House of Representatives continued today.


In an interview, state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, a Black Democrat from Birmingham, fired back against comments a Republican colleague made about her on a radio program. On the House floor today, another Democrat denounced the same comments as “demeaning.”


The comments came from House Speaker Pro Tem Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, who appeared on the FM Talk 106.5 program “Midday Mobile,” as reported by 1819 News. During an interview, Pringle talked about Givan and her exchange on the House floor last week with the only Black Republican in the House, Rep. Kenneth Paschal of Shelby County. Pringle was in the speaker’s chair at the time and the debate was about Paschal’s bill on parental rights.

Givan and other Democrats came to the mic to speak in opposition to Paschal’s bill. Givan brought up a song by the Black rapper Jay-Z, “The Story of O.J.,” which repeatedly uses a form of the N-word. Givan did not use the word but partially quoted the lyrics when speaking to Paschal. Paschal did not respond and the debate moved on to the next speaker.


The state Republican Party later demanded an apology from Givan, saying that she had “vulgarly referred” to Paschal with a racial slur. Paschal also issued a statement, saying Givan “repeatedly inferred she was calling me a racial epithet.” Givan said she would not apologize and demanded an apology from the state GOP for asking her to apologize.


“I have a right to debate and my debate style is different,” Givan said. “I was not disruptive in any way last week. I went back and I reviewed the tape. I did not call anyone the N-word.”


On the radio program, Pringle said Givan and other Democrats were attacking Paschal rather than the substance of his bill.


“He’s a black Republican, and they just hate him,” Pringle said. “And it was very visceral what they were saying to him when they were all coming down, you know, and attacking him.”

Pringle talked specifically about Givan.


“I sat next to her for eight years, and some days, her medication is not quite working, and you can tell,” Pringle said. He said Givan had been “physically dragged” from the House floor and from committee rooms. He commented on Givan’s eyelashes.


Givan, asked today about Pringle’s comments, said they were defamatory and false.


“To accuse me of being on drugs or on any type of medication of any sort, to talk about my eyelashes, to talk about my image as a woman, I was very, very insulted as a Black female, as a woman, period,” Givan said. “And then to allege that I had ever been dragged out of the House chambers at any time, or out of this building, which is a lie.

In 2019, Givan had a contentious encounter with then-House Speaker Mac McCutcheon. Givan called her Republican colleagues “cowardly” and said she “refused to stay on the plantation.” She shouted at McCutcheon after he struck his gavel and had her microphone cut off. Givan left the House floor voluntarily after McCutcheon called for security. McCutcheon said Givan had used obscenities and said he would not tolerate such conduct. Givan apologized but said she stood by her point that she should have been allowed to continue to speak.


Speaking about that incident today, Givan said, “I wasn’t apologizing for saying I refuse to stay on the plantation. I meant what I said to the speaker at that time. Just as I meant it then, I meant it now.”


“Again, I am a strong person,” Givan said. “I am a fierce debater. But what Rep. Pringle did, I am requesting that the speaker take action against him for his decorum, his defamatory comments against me.

A Democratic colleague, Rep. Mary Moore of Birmingham, criticized Pringle’s comments on the House floor.


“A member of this body took to the media this weekend to demean another member of this body, to the extent to lie on that person, to say that security had to drag that person out of this chamber as well as out of a committee meeting,” Moore said. “And then to talk about this person being drugged up and on medication. And talk about the person’s makeup.”


“To come out and demean one of our colleagues the way that this person did I think is beyond the call of duty and deserving of some type of attention,” Moore said.


The Montgomery County Republican Party has also weighed in on the controversy. The party passed a resolution condemning Givan for comments it said were “racially charged, morally crude, and beneath the decorum of public office.” The resolution called on the House to censure Givan and remove her from committees.

Givan said today she stood by her comments and would not apologize for the exchange with Paschal. She wore a pin bearing the image of U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York, the first African American woman to serve in Congress, and the message “Unbought & Unbossed.”


“I do not fear the Republican Party,” Givan said. “They do not scare me. And for them to say that I have been belligerent, I have been on a tirade over the course of the last few days, that is a lie. I was very calm. And I was very deliberate in my debate. I have not been outraged. I simply called things as they are.”


Givan questioned the Republican Party’s outrage over the use of racial slurs directed at Black people.


“When have they ever been concerned about one Black person even remotely calling another the N-word?” Givan said. “I don’t even use that word. Anybody who knows me knows I don’t use that word. I always spoke against using it. Are they just as concerned when they use the N-word or they are around somebody when they use it or in the presence of someone who uses it? When have they become such moral compasses with regards to race in Alabama?”



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Representative Givan did a great job as counsel for my wife and me about 8 years ago. 

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20 hours ago, AUDub said:

Representative Givan did a great job as counsel for my wife and me about 8 years ago. 

Good for you.

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