Alabama lawmakers react to email forwarded by colleague, perceived as racist

MONTGOMERY, AL (WHNT) — Black lawmakers were angered Wednesday after a white Alabama lawmaker forwarded an email that was perceived as racist.

That morning Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) forwarded an email to colleagues at the state house that alluded to an animal experiment that included four caged monkeys, a banana, a ladder and the action of hosing them down with cold water when one of them tried to climb the ladder for the banana, then replacing the monkeys one at a time. Greer added no other comment to the email other than simply forwarding it.

The experiment ended with the monkeys fighting each other, but not knowing why, other than "that is the way it was always done."

RELATED: Here are 14 of some of the most iconic Civil Rights moments

15 PHOTOS
Iconic Civil Rights moments
See Gallery
Iconic Civil Rights moments
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: (FILES) US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 28 August, 1963, on The Mall in Washington, DC, during the 'March on Washington' where King delivered his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The US is celebrating in 2004 what would have been King's 75th birthday. King was assassinated on 04 April, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. AFP PHOTO/FILES (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, AL - MAY 1963: African American children are attacked by dogs and water cannons during a protest against segregation organized by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth in May 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Black Protesters Kneeling Before City Hall, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, Minutes Before Being Arrested for Parading Without a Permit, April 6, 1963. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
March 1965: Participants in a black voting rights march in Alabama. Dr Martin Luther King led the march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)
Rosa Parks sits in the front of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, after the Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal on the city bus system on December 21st, 1956. Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat in the front of a bus in Montgomery set off a successful boycott of the city busses. Man sitting behind Parks is Nicholas C. Chriss, a reporter for United Press International out of Atlanta.
Elizabeth Eckford ignores the hostile screams and stares of fellow students on her first day of school. She was one of the nine negro students whose integration into Little Rock's Central High School was ordered by a Federal Court following legal action by NAACP.
(Original Caption) Passengers of this smoking Greyhound bus, some of the members of the 'Freedom Riders,' a group sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), sit on the ground after the bus was set afire 5/14, by a mob of Caucasians who followed the bus from the city. The mob met the bus at the terminal, stoned it & slashed the tires, then followed the bus from town. BPA2# 47.
U.S. National Guard troops block off Beale Street as Civil Rights marchers wearing placards reading, 'I AM A MAN' pass by on March 29, 1968. It was the third consecutive march held by the group in as many days. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had left town after the first march, would soon return and be assassinated.
American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists and give the Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. The move was a symbolic protest against racism in the United States. Smith, the gold medal winner, and Carlos, the bronze medal winner, were subsequently suspended from their team for their actions.
Young Emmett Till wears a hat. Chicago native Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi after flirting with a white woman.
US President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes the hand of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) at the signing of the Civil Rights Act while officials look on, Washington DC. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) lying in state in Memphis, Tennessee, as his colleagues pay their respects to him (right to left); Andrew Young, Bernard Lee and Reverend Ralph Abernathy (1926 - 1990). (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
African-American students at North Carolina A&T College participate in a sit-in at a F. W. Woolworth's lunch counter reserved for white customers in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Nation of Islam National Minister Malcom X addresses a rally on May 14, 1963, in Harlem in support of desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The end of the email read: "This is how today's House and Senate operates, and why from time to time, ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME!"

Comments were made by several lawmakers that took offense to the email. Our news partners at AL.com say that African-American legislators gathered at the capital to publicly discuss the email. The chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) called it "insulting" and "unacceptable."

Later on Wednesday, Greer released this statement about the email:

"The case study in the email that I forwarded has existed for decades, and a simple Internet search shows that the story is based upon actual psychological experiments that were conducted by in the 1920s. The body of the email has been reprinted – word for word – in several magazines, textbooks, and journals, such as 'Psychology Today,' and it even has its own Wikipedia page.

A constituent sent me the email, which has been distributed nationally and compares the experiment to today's political climate in the U.S. Congress, not the Alabama Legislature. The last paragraph of the email implies that ALL incumbents, whether Republican or Democrat, should be replaced.

SEE ALSO: Footage captures brawl erupt between parents in church as kids walk down the aisle at graduation

Without comment or edits on my part, I forwarded the email to various members who might have an interest, and, as a result, it has been taken out of context and given a meaning that was not intended for pure political purposes. For that, I apologize to my colleagues."

He also included links referencing the study appearing in textbooks, journals, magazines, and other media outlets.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels sent his own statement shortly after, saying in part, "I am surprised and disappointed by the derogatory email that has been circulated... the email speaks for itself... This episode and the hollow apology issued by Rep. Greer makes clear the legislature is in dire need of more decorum and respect... We cannot have a stronger Alabama if its representatives cannot find a way to disagree with dignity."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.