Tea Party leaders in Arkansas are on the defensive after a board member of a Tea Party group in the Ozarks made a racist joke at a rally over the weekend drawing laughs from the audience.

The Baxter Bulletin in north-central Arkansas reported that Inge Marler made the comments at the annual rally of the Ozark Tea Party. The remarks, which suggested that African-Americans are on welfare, were condemned by Tea Party leaders in the state. The Bulletin reported that the condemnation came after they contacted the Tea Party for comment.

The Bulletin reports that Marler, who told the newspaper she would stop using the joke, said the following as an ice-breaker in her speech:

“A black kid asks his mom, ‘Mama, what’s a democracy?’

“‘Well, son, that be when white folks work every day so us po’ folks can get all our benefits.’

“‘But mama, don’t the white folk get mad about that?’

“‘They sho do, son. They sho do. And that’s called racism.’”

Audio of the speech can be heard here.

The remarks come as national Tea Party leaders have denied accusations that their followers are racist.

Earlier this week, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) wrote a column for the Baltimore Sun arguing that the racism charge is being used by progressives seeking to discredit the Tea Party. The NAACP has voted to criticize what it believes are racist elements within the Tea Party.

During a March debate in the Missouri House of Representatives on a bill to require presidential candidates to show their birth certificates to the Missouri secretary of state, Tea Party members of the House denied racism charges in their argument. The bill was sponsored by legislators from the Ozarks area in southern Missouri.

"I have heard our side of the aisle called racist and xenophobic, I am tired of it," Missouri Rep. Wanda Brown (R-Lincoln) said at the time. "There is nothing wrong with asking the president of the United States for his birth certificate. I am tired of being called racist."

Below, a look back at offensive signs from the height of the Tea Party movement:

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  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    Photo courtesy of Jesse Russell in Madison, WI.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    "The American Taxpayers Are The Jews For Obama's Oven" reads one sign in Chicago--Tony Ramao.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    "Our Tax $ Given To Hamas To Kill Christians, Jews and Americans, Thanks Mr. O"--photo by Richard Terk in Sacramento, California.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    Courtesy of ginandtacos.com

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    One stream-of-thought poster reads, "No Taxes. Obama Loves Taxes. Bankrupt USA. Loves Baby Killing"--photo by Mary Wood.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    "Barack Hussein Obama The New face Of Hitler"-- T. Romao, Chicago.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    Edward Favara sent in this photo from Tampa, FL. A black figure that resembles President Obama is portrayed slitting the throat of Uncle Sam.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    Photo by Eric Aguirre in Bryan, TX.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    A car size sign blames Presidents Obama, Clinton and W. Bush for abortion, sodomy, socialism, and the so-called New Word Order--photo taken in Columbia, SC by W. Salter.

  • Most Offensive Tea Party Signs

    Photo by Bernard J. Schober in Phoenix, AZ.

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