When a girls varsity basketball team from Virginia discovered a handmade poster based on the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" in an English classroom, racial hysteria unfolded. A local "activist" took to TV cameras to call for action and the school launched an investigation into the allegedly "racist" poster.
On Monday, during halftime of their game, players of the Fluvanna County High School girls basketball team discovered a poster depicting racial tensions and themes based on "To Kill A Mockingbird" in a Western Albemarle High School English classroom the team was using as a locker room. The girls apparently thought the poster was intentionally left in the room as some sort of hate crime.
One student who posted to social media about the incident claimed the poster had "negros sit in the back of the bus" written on it, according to Daily Progress, and NBC29 reported that images of the KKK and guns were also included.
School officials indulged the race-based conspiracy and launched an "investigation," even though it was clear the room was being used by English classes analyzing about the classic novel.
"The school says the poster was on a student's desk and was removed before any pictures could be taken, and it wasn't intended to be seen in this context," reported NBC29.
"The student had brought a poster in yesterday afternoon, and had not been turned in or evaluated by the teacher, but happened to be in the classroom laid on the desk at the time upon which the Fluvanna team came in it was then obviously noticed. It was noticed a little later at the time they were in there, and obviously raised concerns," WAHS Principal Darah Bonham said.
Bonham says the incident was unfortunate, and believes there was no intent to offend anyone.
A "Charlottesville activist" named Tanesha Hudson ran to the cameras to cry foul over the "unacceptable" poster.
Hudson "is asking parents to attend the Albemarle County School Board meeting on Thursday, February 22, to address the issue. She says that there are a million different ways to teach the novel that don't include using racial slurs, and that the teacher should explain this assignment to the public," noted NBC29.
"I want all of these parents to come to the school board meeting on Thursday at Albemarle County at 6:30, public comment at 8:51," she said. "We need to be there and let them know this is unacceptable."
Hudson claimed incoming superintendent Matt Haas told her he thought Western Albemarle cheerleaders might have intentionally placed the poster in the classroom, though Haas has denied the accusation, suggesting it was a miscommunication issue.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Haas explained:
I apologize for any confusion or blame my discussion with Ms. Hudson may have caused. When I spoke to her earlier today at about 12:30, I was sharing a speculation that was made earlier by school officials, and I did not have all the latest facts. I did advise Ms. Hudson that the incident was still under investigation.
I spoke to Principal Bonham later today, at approximately 3:30, and he shared with me the conclusions of his investigation, which are shared here at the end of this story. They are the most accurate facts of the case.
Again, I apologize, specifically to the Western Albemarle Cheerleaders; my comments were not an official statement, but I should not have made them to a caller while an investigation was incomplete.
Additionally, Western Albemarle High School later clarified: "It was determined that the poster was created as part of a project in which students analyze themes from the novel such as racial tension, injustice, and poverty. Students are drafting written and visual depictions of these complex themes. A student left the poster they are working on in the classroom, on a desk, at the end of the school day. ... The poster has not yet been completed or reviewed by the teacher."
"Although there are no indications that the presence of the poster was anything but inadvertent, we want to use this instance to reaffirm our support for our school's values of respect, community and excellence. Any actions, at any time that are contrary to these values will not be tolerated," the statement added.
WATCH NBC29's news report here.