Labor, civil rights leaders and elected officials have blasted former Education Secretary Bill Bennett’s racist comments that he made on his radio program, Sept. 28, and many have called for his show to be canceled.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney called for every official to unequivocally condemn Bennett’s statements. “The appalling, racist comments of William J. Bennett demand condemnation. How could a man who equates black children with crime—not to mention seeing genocide of African Americans as a theoretical crime solution—have been entrusted by the Reagan administration with educating our children and by the administration of George H. W. Bush with protecting them from illegal drugs?

“Bennett’s comments give us insight into a dangerous mindset that has led to underfunded public schools that are leaving behind so many children—especially children of color and poor children. They underscore the horror we saw when New Orleans flooded and the poor—mostly black and brown—were left behind.

“Truly, America needs a new direction.

“Every responsible public official—Democrat and Republican—must condemn Bennett’s grotesque comments and he must apologize to African Americans and to all Americans whom he has so deeply offended.”

During his nationally broadcasted morning program, Bennett said, “If you wanted to reduce crime…if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) said in a statement, “William Bennett should be censured and fined by the Federal Communications Commission for his repugnant and barbarous remarks during his morning radio program.”

Jackson called for the FCC to take “decisive action” to protect the public airwaves from degenerate comments like Bennett’s. “In my view, I believe the airwaves belong to the public and should be reserved for the public good. Bennett’s comments did nothing but undermine it,” Jackson said.

Bennett is a self-proclaimed “values” czar. Writing books and producing shows on PBS for children, Bennett’s comments have proved how hollow his values are. Bennett was also exposed as a gambling addict.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) demanded an apology and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) condemned Bennett’s statement, “This is precisely the kind of insensitive, hurtful and ignorant rhetoric that Americans have grown tired of.”

Parents in Philadelphia are demanding that the school district cancel a contract with K12, a textbook company that Bennett runs. Though some of the Philadelphia school district’s top science teachers raised concerns about K12’s qualifications and experience, the district awarded the company the contract to supply kindergarten through third-grade science curriculum materials in April. (See PWW Aug. 27-Sept. 2)

“I find it hard to see any explanation for why they’re here in Philadelphia educating many of the Black children Mr. Bennett clearly finds it provocative to call expendable,” Helen Gym, a mother of a district third-grader, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I am very rarely struck speechless anymore. However, I could not get words out of my mouth this morning when I realized that my school district is somehow providing support to this company,” said Ellayne Bender, mother of a district 11th-grader.

“On a moral level, as a human being,” Bender added, “I would like to see the contract voided.”