"Before we get started I want to read a statement from my desk to the people of the City of Buffalo and to all of our families and students who attend Catholic schools or put their children in Catholic schools."
That is how Masten District Common Councilmember Ulysses Wingo started his community meeting Thursday night. To come was an apology for comments he made earlier in the week about students in Catholic schools who "have fun saying" their "Catholic prayers."
The comment came during a heated discussion of diversity and admission polices for Buffalo schools, particularly the top-performing City Honors. Wingo had introduced a resolution entitled "Diversity in City Honors and Olmsted" in support of the Buffalo Board of Education's new measures to help the schools better reflect the city's population.
"In defense of my position and in my passion for my constituency and our city's youth, I allowed myself to speak beyond my personal beliefs and made a statement in error that does not reflect my true opinion about Catholic schools, their families or their students," Wingo said, "and for that I am Godly sorry and I apologize to anyone that I offended or hurt with those words."
Wingo said "historical and traditional disadvantages that communities of color have experienced...require amelioration." His resolution would support the Board's request to reserve 17 percent of seats for "traditional" Buffalo Public Schools applicants in an effort to "remedy imbalances."
In his apology, Wingo said he could not guarantee against another "mistake," but promised to "keep his enthusiasm tightly reigned" and "be more careful" with his words "moving forward."