Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis explains how she 'struggled to recall' what NAACP acronym stood for

jamie giellis.jpg
Posted at 4:57 PM, May 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 14:24:41-04

DENVER – Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis acknowledged Wednesday that she “momentarily struggled to recall” what the acronym NAACP stood for in an appearance on the Brother Jeff Fard show Tuesday.

Giellis, who is set for a runoff with incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock on June 4, was asked by guest host Shay J about a recent public appearance Giellis made in which she apparently struggled with the acronym, which stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (The exchange starts around minute 22 in the video embedded below.)

“We’ve received this question five times today: Why does Jamie not know what the NAACP is and stands for,” Shay J said, after which another show producer says Giellis can “put it to rest.”

On the show, Giellis said she “absolutely” knew about the NAACP but struggled again when asked to say what the acronym stood for.

“National African-American…” she started saying on the show before she was cut off. She then asked, “You going to test me on this?”

Shay J responded by saying that would be the case.

“Yeah, it’s important because it’s our people, and we want to know if you’re connected to the people. And I know the NAACP has a big branch out here that does … that informs the black vote,” Shay J said, before asking Giellis if she knew what the NAACP stood for.

“Well they do advocacy for the African-American community. They talk about policy. They talk about issues. They stand up for civil rights. They work on a number of things,” Giellis responded, adding that she would “absolutely” plan on working with the organizations and others similar to it.

The exchange caught the eye of some closely following the mayoral race, which is now headed to a runoff between Giellis and Hancock, who were the top two vote recipients in last Tuesday’s election but who both failed to receive 50% of the vote, plus one vote, as required for an outright victory.

Giellis won the endorsements of the third- and fourth-place finishers in the race, Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate, on Tuesday. Hancock, who is African-American, won 38.7% of the vote in Tuesday’s election, while the combination of votes received by Giellis, Calderon and Tate amounts to 58.1% of mayoral votes.

Giellis’ campaign is aiming to use the endorsements to try and unseat Hancock, who is in the midst of his second term. Brother Jeff, a community organizer and cultural leader of Five Points, is also endorsing Giellis.

“To all my white allies and friends. If you want to help ordinary Blacks vote for Jamie. Thanks in advance. It’s Time!” he wrote on his page after the Shay J discussion with Giellis.

About 10% of Denver County's population is black or African-American, according to 2016 U.S. Census data and 2018 estimates.

Giellis issued a statement to Denver7 Wednesday acknowledging the exchange and discussing how she plans to work with the NAACP and other organizations if elected. She also said she had already contacted the NAACP to find a way to work together:

“Yesterday as a guest on the Brother Jeff show with guest host Shay J, I was asked if I knew what the NAACP was, to which I replied with my acknowledgment of its mission and work. Then, when asked what the acronym stood for, I momentarily struggled to recall. Moments after the show, while collecting my thoughts, it came to me – the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I told the hosts what it stood for and apologized for my momentary lapse.

“This campaign has expanded my knowledge of other cultures, their wants, struggles and successes. I am learning more every day. I am familiar with the NAACP, in fact they co-hosted a mayoral forum along with the Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CBWPA) and The Urban League Young Professionals at New Hope Baptist church earlier in the campaign. This weekend, I will participate in the Colorado Black Round Table Candidate Forum. As Mayor I look forward to working with this historic organization. In fact, I intend to take out a membership. I have contacted the NAACP to learn more and to begin to build a partnership.”

The runoff election is slated for June 4.