MONDAY: Board to decide on NAACP leader's fate

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 01:23:22-05

The leader of an Arizona NAACP branch has offered to resign after coming under fire for his comments about a female reporter, but we will not know his fate until a Monday meeting.

Don Harris, 77, made the comment Wednesday after attending a meeting about Desert Vista High School students who took a photo of themselves spelling out a racial slur on their T-shirts.

Phoenix New Times reporter Ray Stern captured audio of Harris making a crude remark to Stern about a female TV reporter's appearance.

"I made a mistake, I never should have said that," said Harris.

Harris became president of the Maricopa County branch of the NAACP in 2015. He said he emailed the branch's executive board members after the story broke to clear the air and offer his resignation.

Harris said that he is leaving the final decision in the board's hands. The group is set to meet Monday to address the issue.

"If they want me gone, I'm gone," Harris told the media. "I'm not ducking from anything. I did something stupid and wrong and I'm sorry for it. I can't beat myself forever about it. I said it. And I can't be any more sincere."

"I still can make a difference in this community."

Harris told KTAR-FM on Thursday that several African American church leaders in Phoenix want him to remain as president.

Harris said his supporters include Dr. Warren Stewart Sr., senior pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church, and Pastor Bishop Alexis Thomas of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church.

Despite numerous phone calls, texts, and visits to their respective churches, neither Stewart nor Thomas could be reached Thursday night.

ABC15 asked for Harris to connect him us with the pastors.  That request did not get a reply.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin was facilitating the talks Wednesday. He called for Harris' resignation in a press conference Wednesday.

Maricopa County NAACP board member Benjamin Taylor said people shouldn't rush to judge. "Harris is a great guy and one mistake should not define him."

Taylor clarified Thursday night that he has not decided how he will vote regarding Harris at Monday’s meeting.

"Don has been a member of the NAACP since the `80s," said Taylor, an attorney. "This is an unfortunate incident that happened and Don feels terrible. I have spoken to him personally and he regrets what happened and he apologizes tremendously."