(McClatchy) – Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry gave a surprisingly candid speech on race Thursday in what was touted as an economic blueprint but was framed as an outreach to the African-American community.
Speaking to a crowded ballroom at a National Press Club luncheon, the former Texas governor opened his remarks with a particularly graphic retelling of the torture and burning death of a young mentally disabled black man found guilty of rape and murder in Texas nearly 100 years ago.
“Even today, we Texans struggle to talk about what happened to Jesse Washington. We don’t want to believe that our great state could ever have been the scene of such unimaginable horror,” said Perry.
“But it is an episode in our history that we cannot ignore,” he said. “It is an episode we have an obligation to transcend.”