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RNC clarifies tweet that suggests racism is over

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Posted at 10:14 AM, Dec 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-03 10:16:14-05

(CNN) – As the Republican National Committee has been working to expand its outreach to African-Americans, it now finds itself playing defense after a well-intentioned but unpolished tweet honoring the legacy of Rosa Parks seemed to ignite some backlash.

The RNC on Sunday, commemorating the day Parks was arrested in 1955, sent out a tweet to recognize the civil rights activist.

“Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism,” its Twitter page read. Attached was a photo of a young Parks.

A few hours after the original tweet, the RNC tweeted a clarification on the latter end of the statement.

“Previous tweet should have read “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism,” the tweet stated.

But the initial tweet had already sparked reactions from people who took issue with the phrase suggesting that racism has ended. Some people on Twitter started using the hash tag “#RacismEndedWhen,” with many taking a sarcastic tone.

Also on Sunday, roughly around the same time as the original tweet, the RNC sent out an email with a message celebrating Parks. The statement included a similar line as the original tweet, but more accurately stated Parks played a role in “fighting racism and ending segregation.”

“We remember and honor Rosa Parks today for the role she played in fighting racism and ending segregation. At the same time we rededicate ourselves to the causes of justice and equal opportunity,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

“Rosa Parks was a hero of the civil rights movement,” he also said. “On this day 58 years ago, the 42-year-old seamstress took a bold stand-by staying seated. Her arrest ignited a bus boycott that challenged the injustice of segregation and in turn helped to change this nation for the better.”

After GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won only 6% of the African-American vote last year, the RNC has actively worked to change its tone and message to appeal to more African-Americans this year.

Just last month, it launched an African-American Engagement effort in Michigan, after starting similar outreach campaigns in other states, including New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.