The Boston Herald on Saturday announced plans to meet with the local NAACP in response to the civil rights group’s condemnation of a cartoon by longtime Herald editorial cartoonist Jerry Holbert.
The cartoon, which ran in Wednesday’s Herald, lampooned recent White House security lapses, depicting a bathroom intruder asking President Obama if he had tried watermelon-flavored toothpaste, a reference that critics said evoked racist stereotypes.
Holbert and the Herald apologized and said no offense was intended. Michael A. Curry, president of the Boston NAACP branch, said in a phone interview Saturday that ignorance was not a satisfactory excuse.
“That’s unacceptable in 2014 that someone doesn’t know American history or culture enough to be a cartoonist or a reporter and avoid those stereotypes,” he said.
In a statement, Curry asked the Herald to attend a community meeting, invest in fostering better historical understanding in the community, provide Herald staff with sensitivity training, and increase employee diversity.
Curry said that Herald executives told him they were ready to hear from the black community but had not yet committed to pursuing any action beyond a meeting.
“They said to me that they’re willing to do whatever and they’re expecting to hear from the community at this forum,” he said. “I think what’s important here is they’ve said no to nothing at this point.”
Gwen Gage, a Herald spokeswoman, said the paper’s executives and NAACP leaders would continue discussing the format of the meeting and the other requests in the coming days.