‘Happy’ Chandler Apologizes for Remark
A.B. (Happy) Chandler, former baseball commissioner and Kentucky governor, apologized Thursday for a racial slur, but calls continued for his resignation from the University of Kentucky’s Board of Trustees.
Kentucky’s football team halted spring drills for a day to protest Chandler’s remark. The team will resume practice today and will participate in a rally calling for Chandler’s resignation.
Chandler, 89, denied he was a racist and said his record on race issues should be enough to convince anyone of his concern for minorities. Chandler, a two-time U.S. Senator, pointed to his 1947 decision as baseball commissioner to allow Jackie Robinson to play in the major leagues, breaking the color barrier.
“I don’t reckon there’s anybody in this lifetime has made any greater contribution to race relations and good feelings between black and white people than your humble servant, and I think the record will show that,” Chandler said at a news conference.
The remark that touched off the furor was made Tuesday when Chandler was attending an investments committee meeting of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees. The university decided in 1985 to dispose of its investments in South Africa because of that nation’s racial policies.
“You know Zimbabwe’s all nigger now; there aren’t any whites,” Chandler said.
The comment prompted a storm of protest, including the football team’s action.
“He doesn’t realize that this is the ‘80s. This is 1988, and we don’t like being called that anymore. . . . I mean we never did like being called that. The term is not acceptable,” said team spokesman Dave Johnson, a defensive back from Louisville.
Players said they may not participate in the spring game scheduled for April 16 unless Chandler is off the board.