Three weeks ago, we exposed numerous inaccuracies in county Supervisor Bill Horn’s bogus civil rights story. He claimed that he was jailed during a civil rights protest in the 1960s and worked for Ralph Abernathy, a top aide to Martin Luther King Jr.
Horn knew he hadn’t been jailed during a protest and made the claim anyways to defend himself at a public meeting. Critics of the county’s redistricting plan had called the supervisors uncaring of racial minorities. Horn aimed to repel them by casting himself as a civil rights advocate.
We labeled his claims Huckster Propaganda, though one question remained. Did Horn ever work for Abernathy, who was primarily known for fighting segregation in the South?
Horn attended protests in the early 1960s organized by the San Diego chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality. Hal Brown, the chapter’s leader at the time, told us Abernathy was never associated with the group. A spokesman for the national organization also told us Abernathy never led any efforts in California.
We asked Horn to clarify why he said he worked for Abernathy before we ran the Fact Check but he never answered the question directly. A spokesman said the supervisor’s memory had faded.
But at Tuesday’s public board meeting, Horn’s memory returned. Referencing our Fact Check, Jess D. Haro, a former San Diego City Councilman, asked Horn to clarify his statement about Abernathy. Horn leaned forward from his seat, turned on his microphone and said:
For the record, sir, I worked for CORE, I did not specifically work for Ralph Abernathy. I was 19 years old. I heard him speak. I never met Martin Luther King. Ralph Abernathy was the only person who showed up to speak, so I probably misspoke. I didn’t want to give the impression I worked specifically for him. I worked for CORE.
Horn switched off his microphone and leaned back in his chair. “Thank you,” the speaker said.
Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.
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