Local News

Alleged Racist Pictures in School Yearbook Offend Students, Parents

Posted May 25, 1999

— A school yearbook is intended to commemorate students' experiences over the school year, but pictures published in Chatham Central's yearbook have some students scared and upset.

The pictures show five students wearing nooses, and some students say it is a very real sign of racism in their school.

Chatham County Schoolshave taken action to correct the problem, but one student says it is not enough.

"I still think, 'What went through their minds when they took that picture?'" says student Chris Taylor, who claims his name was first on the "noose list" that was scrawled on a bathroom wall earlier this year at Chatham Central.

Taylor first saw the pictures when the Chatham Central yearbooks arrived last week. He saw five of his classmates in different poses, but he looked closer, and saw they had nooses hanging from their necks.

"They don't realize how much it hurts you because they don't know enough themselves," Taylor said. "It's really hurtful because I have pride in my own people."

Taylor says that he did not provoke any of the students, and does not understand why they would target him.

"I have no idea why my name was on the list I never offended anyone to the point that they would want to see me dead," he said.

"I'm sorry it has offended people," says Dr. Larry Mabe, superintendent of Chatham County Schools. "We're trying to do the best we can to overcome this."

Mabe says all students have received blank pages to cover up the offensive picture, and they can return their yearbooks for a refund.

The principal immediately suspended the students in the picture, but the school board reduced the suspensions Monday night.

Delphine Taylor says the punishment is a slap on the wrist, and a blank page in her son's yearbook is a slap in the face.

"The Chatham County schools have sent the message that you can do these kinds of things," she said. "Twenty years from now when they look at that page and it's blank, they'll have to explain to their children what happened."

Chris Taylor says two of the students in the picture did apologize to him. However, he says he plans to ask the school board to not allow the five students to walk across the stage at graduation ceremonies.

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