HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico County Public School Board Chair and Three Chopt District representative Michelle "Micky" Ogburn apologized Wednesday for a social media post she shared that dismissed a recent decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to no longer publish six of the author's books because they "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
Her apology came after a roughly three-and-a-half-hour closed special meeting.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to publicly apologize to our community for my actions and a social media post," Ogburn, who read from a written statement, said.
Last week, Ogburn shared, then deleted and posted an apology for, a Facebook post that featured a photo of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch character extending his middle finger and an accompanying poem written a day after the announcement to no longer publish some of Seuss' books was made.
The poem talked about taking no issue with Dr. Seuss' work and finding, "Not one vicious word/To make me offended" and called the pictures "whimsical" and the characters "unique."
The poem added that "whiners, crying in tears/With NO life to enjoy, must find someone to blame/Someone to hate/Someone to shame."
It told people to "go to hell" and to "Leave Dr. Seuss alone."
Ogburn had shared someone else's post and added the comments "I love this and Dr Seuss books."
Ogburn later deleted that post and wrote a new one that said "to anyone who was offended" by her earlier post "I sincerely apologize" and claimed she did not see the whole post or the attached picture before sharing.
She added the lesson learned was to read an entire post and "think about things through the eyes of others before posting" and said she deleted her post once she realized what the entire post was.
The Henrico Citizen reported that Ogburn was "absolutely embarrassed and mortified" about the incident.
At the conclusion of Wednesday's meeting, reiterated much of what her online apology said.
"If I had read the offensive poem in its entirety, I would have never reposted because this does not represent what I believe in. As soon as I read the entire offensive post, I immediately deleted it. But, I know that this mistake has caused others pain and opened wounds that I can only imagine," added Ogburn. "I cannot begin to describe the depths of my regret for that pain and the pain I have caused others. But when we make mistakes, we must own up to them and learn from them. I'm listening, I'm learning, and I promise you that will not stop."
Following Ogburn's comments, Vice-Chair and Tuckahoe District representative Marcie Shea read a written statement on behalf of all five board members.
"There are times when apologies are enough. There are also times when actions are required to help bridge gaps caused by mistakes. As a board, this moment has sparked an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment and deepen conversations opposing all forms of discrimination. Together, we will face profound challenges in equity, diversity, and inclusion by listening, responding, and advancing bold ideas to promote positive change," Shea said.
Shea added that "racially insensitive acts, whether intentional or unintentional, hurt" and that additional required cultural sensitivity and implicit bias training would occur "to heal, educate and work toward overcoming the damaging effects of this incident."
"Equity, diversity, and inclusion have been and continue to be priorities for the school board and all Henrico County Schools. James Baldwin said, 'Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,'" Shea added.
The board voted to participate in this training and also voted to hold town hall opportunities for "additional communication within our community."
President of Henrico NAACP, Sharon Glover also released a statement in response to the incident.
“The Henrico NAACP is very disappointed in the actions of Three Chopt District representative Micky Ogburn. We understand she has since removed the post and apologized. However, acts such as this, from an individual representing our school board is unacceptable. Mrs. Ogburn’s sharing of the post is a clear indication of how much work is yet to be done. We demand our school board representatives be culturally aware and competent about the complexities of racially charged language, media, memes, and the like. We expect better from our community leaders, especially those that are responsible for making decisions regarding the education of our youth," Glover said.
Further details about the implementation of those two votes were not readily available.