Views of watermelon celebration tied into history of school campus

Views of watermelon celebration tied into history of school campus

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Academic Magnet is on a campus with a history spanning decades.

School board member Michael Miller says he brought up concerns of a parent about the team's post game ritual.

Miller says history and the name of the campus should be taken seriously.

Academic Magnet shares a campus with The Charleston County School of the Arts. The campus itself is called Bonds-Wilson, named after J.R. Bonds and John Wilson, two African American educators.

Archival history of the men are kept in the massive archives of the Avery Research Center in downtown Charleston.

Bonds-Wilson High School opened in the 1940's, and served as an all black school during segregation.

School pictures and class rings were saved in the Avery's archives, preserving the memory of the school.

In Tuesday's news conference, Dr. Nancy McGinley said the football players nicknamed the watermelons in question, "junior and Bonds Wilson."

Millers says he found it offensive.

"The watermelon by itself in a celebration, I don't believe is offensive at all," said Miller, "I think coupled with the chants that sound like animal chants still made it offensive, but yet still tolerable."

Miller said, "When it was also accompanied by a picture that took on a similarity of a coon narrative, and then to name the watermelon after two men who worked their adult life in education. To me was very thoughtless and insensitive," said school board member Michael Miller.

Miller says he doesn't know the intent of the football players involved in the post-game ritual.

"But it's the perception, and what it represented to me was something that was very troubling," said Miller.

Miller says it's about accountability.

"I've gotten several emails saying that we've called him a racist or he's been called a racist. Personally I've never called him that because I don't know that to be. But I do know this is in my opinion a lack of judgement."

To get in students must live Charleston County and fill out an application. They must have at least an overall average of a B.

644 students attend Academic Magnet High School. 545 are white, 15 are African American, 49 are Asian or Pacific Islander, 21 are Hispanic, and 4 are American Indian or Alaskan.

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