DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver mayoral candidate was seen in a Facebook live video with the city’s African American community and drew a blank when she was asked what the NAACP stands for. Jamie Giellis is in a runoff with two-time incumbent Michael Hancock.
She was being interviewed for a show on the Brother Jeff Network in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, where the Denver chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — or NAACP — was born.
“We received this question five times today,” said host Shay J. “Why does Jamie not know what NAACP is and stands for? Put it to rest,” Shay J. and co-host Hashim Coates challenged Giellis.
Giellis looked caught off guard and fumbled with her answer, “National African American…”.
Shay J. followed-up, “Do you know what they do, the NAACP, and you don’t have to give me specifics about the name, but what they stand for?”
Once again, Giellis struggled.
“Well they do advocacy for the African American community. They talk about policy. They talk about issues. They stand-up for some rights.”
In an interview with CBS4 the next day, Shay J. said the questions weren’t meant to be difficult. She says Giellis should have been better prepared.
“I just was waiting for a recovery. There has to be a recovery on this one. There has to be a recovery. And I you know you had to do your homework knowing that you were coming to a minority based platform. The homework should have been done.”
Shay J. says things went from bad to worse when she and Coates asked Giellis about her plan to address racism in the city and the lack of diversity on her campaign.
“We all have blind spots… so this is definitely one.”
Shay J. says while she gives Giellis credit for coming on the show, she needs to apologize to the African American community.
“My culture and my race is not allowed to be a blind spot for anyone. I walk down the street and there’s nothing blind about being a black woman. There’s nothing blind about my race. So, I take very offense to it being a blind spot.”
Coates, too, was shocked, “There comes a point to where your vision is impaired that you’re not able to drive. I expect more. I want more out of a leader.”
So does the head of the NAACP State Conference Rosemary Lytle.
“I frankly am deeply troubled by the mayoral candidacy of a person who not only does not know what the acronym of the NAACP stands for, but who clearly does not understand its mission should be her mission.”
Giellis released a statement saying her inability to remember what the NAACP stood for was a “momentary lapse” that she apologized for after the show. She says the campaign has expanded her knowledge of “other cultures, their wants, struggles and successes.” She says she intends to become a member of the NAACP.
Shay J. says 11,000 people have watched the show since it aired yesterday.