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Kentucky GOP Governor Matt Bevin Surprised to Discover That Black Children Play Chess

The governor of Kentucky probably just wanted a photo op. Instead, he started talking.

While on a promotional tour of West Louisville, Kentucky’s GOP Governor Matt Bevin stopped by the Nativity Academy at St. Boniface in order to film a brief social media spot. There, Bevin happened upon something he’d apparently never seen before: black children playing chess. Amidst this seemingly new discovery for the Republican governor, Bevin said:

I’m here at the Nativity Academy. I’m about to go in and meet the members of the West Louisville Chess Club. Not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town and yet some incredible young minds, some incredible teachers.

Reaction was swift and heavy with rebuke.

In comments to the Courier Journal, Louisville Metro Councilman David James, who represents the neighborhood where the middle school is located, said, “It was just an obvious move by the governor to take photos with the African-American community. To perpetuate a stereotype of the African-American community like that is unbelievable.”

Donovan Taylor, an official with the Chickasaw Neighborhood Association in West Louisville, made fun of Bevin’s video on Facebook. He said:

Bevin…Blacks in west Louisville enjoy chess, tennis, and many other activities not associated with guns and violence. To think less of west Louisville shows your thinking of the residents of the area. It was a very funny video. It’s laughable to have such a small view of West Louisville. It is definitely offensive. If it’s not racist, it’s classist. It’s disturbing.

Bevin’s spokesperson, Elizabeth Kuhn, complained about the criticism to the media. In a statement, she said, “Governor Bevin met with the West Louisville Chess Club to showcase an important program that is encouraging sportsmanship and character building among Kentucky’s youth. It is disappointing that some are trying to shift the focus away from the incredible accomplishments of these talented kids.”

This isn’t Bevin’s first foot-in-mouth rodeo related to educational issues. In April, Kentucky’s Tea Party-affiliated governor invited national scorn and mockery after he claimed that teachers’ strikes enable the sexual assault of children.

[image via Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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