Picture this: Charleston professor says he was fired after picture appeared on beer can

Charleston professor says he was fired after picture appeared on beer can
Published: Jun. 1, 2014 at 2:17 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2014 at 3:47 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Dr. Paul Roof has been an educator for 15 years, spending the last six at Charleston Southern University.

Roof says University officials fired him Friday, over reaction from his students after his likeness appeared on a beer can.

"They specifically cited in my meeting the Total Wine ad, and that it was on my Facebook page, and students liked that," he said.

"I'm not compensated for the image, I don't own the image, and the use of the image was a surprise to me."

A university spokesman said the school would not comment on personnel matters.

The photo of Roof, which was taken last fall at a beard competition in New Orleans, can be seen on beer cans for Holy City Brewing, a North Charleston craft brewery. It also appears on company posters and t-shirts.

This is not the first time the likeness of Dr. Roof as "Chucktown Follicle Brown," has been used. In Spring of 2014, the photo appears in advertisements for technology conference Dig South. Roof says a church in Lubbock, Texas also used the photo for a mustache event.

In 2007, the South Carolina native founded the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society. Each year, the group hosts a regional championship, and has partnered with Holy City Brewing as a sponsor each of its five years.

The sociology professor says Charleston Southern was aware of his relationship with the company, and said it never posed an issue prior to advertisements for the beer can.

Chris Brown, an owner of Holy City Brewing, said his heart dropped when he heard Roof was no longer employed by Charleston Southern.

Brown said his team thought the likeness on company products would honor him.

Since posting the news on his Facebook page, the longtime professor received an outpouring of support from friends and former students. One supporter started a fundraising page in Roof's honor, with proceeds going to Lowcountry Women with Wings, a center for women with Ovarian cancer.

Each year, the Dr. Roof's society donates to the group with proceeds from its regional championship. Within hours of the Facebook post, supporters doubled the fundraising goal of $1,000.

"It's overwhelming," he said.

"I will give Charleston Southern credit," he said. "They never discriminated against me in terms of having a beard."

"It almost feels like you're a witness to your own funeral, because being fired is almost like a miniature death."

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