Racial slur used during speech

The Associated Press
Wednesday February 14, 2001

EMERYVILLE — Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante used a racial slur during a speech to a labor group celebrating Black History Month, a move he calls a mortifying mistake. 

Bustamante, was has focused on improving race relations during his political career, said he meant to use the word “Negro” but slipped and said another n-word during his speech about the black union movement. 

Bustamante, a Democrat, was speaking at the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists’ annual awards dinner and scholarship fund-raiser Friday. 

Bustamante said Tuesday that he was reading a prepared speech when he heard himself say something that sounded like an offensive slur. 

“I finished my speech and people were clapping but I said, ‘I can’t leave the podium. I can’t leave the podium because I don’t know if you heard what I think I heard, but if you did, that is not me, that’s not how I was raised, and that’s not how I teach my children,”’ Bustamante said. 

Antonio Christian, president of the Northern California chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, said he did not hear the slur, nor did his wife, but that if Bustamante did use the word, he forgives him. 

“This man has a great record that has been good to minorities and labor and now we are going to crucify him for a mistake?” Christian asked. 

Some coalition members have asked that Bustamante come back to the organization and apologize again, but Christian said he would survey members to find out if that was necessary.