NAACP: Academic Magnet football coach apologized, did not see celebrations as racially insensitive
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said she has spoken to former Academic Magnet football coach Bud Walpole who she says has apologized for the alleged post-game celebrations involving a watermelon which led to Walpole's removal from the football team.
During a press conference in downtown Charleston on Wednesday, Scott said she spoke to Walpole Wednesday morning.
According to Scott, Walpole apologized for the celebrations and said he did not see them as racially insensitive.
Scott also commended the Charleston County School District, specifically Superintendent Nancy McGinley, "for her swift attention to an inappropriate and racially insensitive ritual performed by the football team at Academic Magnet High School."
McGinley said a parent contacted a school board member after witnessing a post-game celebration involving a watermelon following a win by the Academic Magnet football team.
That sparked an investigation which revealed a "watermelon ritual with students making monkey sounds" that football team members engaged in after recent victories. Each time, the watermelon was decorated with what McGinley described as a caricature by a student using a Sharpie marker with the watermelon being named "Bonds Wilson" at various times.
As a result of the investigation, Walpole, who is a physical education teacher at Liberty Hill Academy, was removed Monday as head football coach and girls basketball coach at Academic Magnet.
"We understand the upset on the part of the football team about the firing of the coach since they're in the midst of a winning season, but even those who are successful must be accountable for their bad behavior," read a statement released on Wednesday by the NAACP."The parents and adults involved - who should set a standard of positive behavior for our children - are old enough to know that and should re-examine their values if they try to excuse away a blatant insult to many in our community, regardless of race or culture."
In addition, the statement by the NAACP compared the celebrations to desecrating the Confederate flag.
"All of those adults should ask themselves a simple question - would you take the same stance if an overwhelmingly black football team's "victory ritual" was to urinate on and then stomp a Confederate Flag into the dirt when they have defeated an overwhelmingly white football team?"
The NAACP is calling on the school district and the city to create a task force to "bring equity and fairness in public education, in employment, in business development, in housing and in everything that will make ours a fair and balanced community."
Walpole has coached the Raptors to a 6-2 record this season, tying the school's win record. He went 29-70 during his 10 years coaching the team.
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