According to Atlanta Black Star, blackface photos of Sherman Jaquess, a pastor at Matoaka Baptist Church in Tulsa, resurfaced on social media. Jaquess said he painted his body in black smudge and wore a Jheri curl wig during a 2017 performance in honor of Charles.
“We have people [who] are offended by a lot of things, but it’s hard to play Ray Charles if you don’t play a Black man; it wasn’t anything,” Jaquess told the Examiner-Enterprise in defense of his actions.
Jaquess claimed the act wasn't racist.
“It wasn’t derogatory, wasn’t racial in any way, and we’re not racist at all. I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I have a lot of racial friends,” the pastor said.
Tulsa activist Marq Lewis told the Examiner-Enterprise that Jaquees' response was "a slap in the face of African Americans and all people of color."
“You can honor anyone by not putting on blackface, and he is ignoring the historical references and all of the satirical types of caricatures that African Americans have gone through in this country,” Lewis said.
Jaquess doubled down on wearing blackface during a recent sermon.
“There wasn’t anything racial about it. I was singing Ray Charles ‘Seven Spanish Angels,’ and I said, ‘I love Ray Charles’ music. How can you portray Ray Charles if you’re not a Black man?’” the pastor said, per the Atlanta Black Star.
See the photo here.