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A white legislator in the North Carolina House has apologized for asking his Black colleague a racist question about his educational success at Harvard.

As reported by The News & Observer (behind a paywall), Rep. Jeff McNeely, a Republican from Stony Point and member of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, made his remarks during a Wednesday floor debate on an education bill that would expand the eligibility requirements for NC Opportunity Scholarships.

As Rep. Abe Jones, a Black Democrat from Raleigh, debated the bill, McNeely interrupted.

“I understand that you went into public schools and you went to Harvard and Harvard Law,” McNeely said to Jones.

“And the question I guess, is, would you have been able to maybe achieve this if you were not an athlete or a minority or any of these things, but you were a student trapped in a school that the slowest — you know, in the wild we’ll say the slowest gazelle does not survive, but yet the herd moves at that pace. So the brightest child sometimes is held back in order — “

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Thankfully, McNeely was interrupted by House Democratic leader Robert Reives, who called for a point of order.

“I’m hoping I wasn’t the only one that got shocked by that comment,” Reives said. “The only reason you went to Harvard is because you were Black and an athlete?”

McNeely argued, “I said, would that, did that end up being one of the reasons? I do not know that. I asked him this.”

House Speaker Tim Moore cut off McNeely before the conversation could continue, giving the floor back to Jones.

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While Jones said he didn’t know the answer to McNeely’s question, he did say this:

“Harvard gave five rankings for their students. One, two, three, four, five. When I graduated from Harvard, I was in rank two. So I earned my place, and I did well.”

Following an uninterrupted standing ovation from House Democrats, McNeely apologized, saying his comments came out differently than intended. He also would personally apologize to Jones after chamber adjourned.

“I also want to say directly to Rep. McNeely, I accept his apology,” Jones said. “I’ve never had any cross words with him. I assume he didn’t mean any harm to me. He had guts enough to apologize to me publicly, and I have guts enough to accept it.”