An influential NAACP leader in North Carolina on Sunday referred to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is one of only two black senators in the United States Congress, as a ventriloquist’s dummy.

There Are Only Two Black U.S. Senators – and an NAACP Chief Just Referred to One of Them as a Ventriloquists Dummy

Tim Scott, left, was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012 to succeed outgoing U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. (Getty Images)

“A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy,” Rev. William Barber said, clearly implying that Scott is controlled by a puppet master.

The “extreme right-wing down here [in South Carolina] finds a black guy to be senator and claims he’s the first black senator since Reconstruction, and then he goes to Washington, D.C., and articulates the agenda of the Tea Party,” Barber added, according to South Carolina newspaper The State.

Scott, who was appointed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) in 2012 after Republican Sen. Jim DeMint stepped down to lead the conservative Heritage Foundation, fired back at the reverend in a written statement.

“To reflect seriously on the comments a person, a pastor that is filled with baseless and meaningless rhetoric would be to do a disservice to the very people who have sacrificed so much and paved a way,” the senator said. “Instead, I will honor the memory of Dr. King by being proactive in holding the door for others and serving my fellow man. And Rev. Barber will remind me and others of what not to do.”

Barber has in recent months become an “emerging figure” in North Carolina politics, The Washington Post reported.

“As head of the state’s NAACP, he recently joined other black leaders and Democrats in calling for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to call an earlier special election for former congressman Mel Watt’s (D-N.C.) seat,” the report added. “Barber has been particularly active on issues of voter ID, denouncing conservatives in the North Carolina state legislature for passing new regulations.”

Barber’s remarks were made just one day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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