Chapel Hill man says daughter's controversial photo taken 'out of context'
Posted May 6, 2015 8:58 a.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2018 2:22 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The father of a student at East Chapel Hill High School said Wednesday that his daughter did not mean to offend anyone in late April when she posted a photo to social media of two Confederate flags with the caption “South will rise.”
A contentious scene unfolded outside the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools offices Wednesday morning when Ronald Creatore arrived to defend his daughter and ask questions of concerned students, parents and community members who were holding a news conference to call for punishment in the incident. Creatore said the meaning of his daughter’s post was taken out of context.
“My daughter is very upset. This was not intended in the way it’s being perceived in the community,” Creatore said. “In hindsight, she now understands what this led to, but that wasn’t her intention at the time she posted the photograph.”
The picture was taken during a school trip to the Gettysburg National Battlefield, and it was uploaded to the photo-sharing mobile app Instagram.
A comment on the photo reading “Already bought my first slave” also drew criticism from many students and parents at the school, including Creatore, who said it was unacceptable.
Creatore’s daughter later posted an apology, saying the photo was not intended to offend:
"I'm sorry that my picture offended people and especially since my initial caption (that I changed once I realized people took it seriously), but I'm currently on the Civil War trip learning about the history of our country and this just so happens to be a pretty (expletive) important part of it. We were reenacting Pickett's charge in which the South lost 85% of their soldiers. These aren't the Confederate flags in fact, they're the North Carolina regimental flags. I'm proud to be a part of my state and I'm sorry my photo was so offensive but I find it appropriate in that I'm honoring heroes that fought to protect their home and families. Thanks though."
Student Brianna Tate spoke to the media during a Wednesday morning news conference.
“Students were hurt, and even students I know have cried because of this incident and the remarks they are so disgusted by,” she said.
Eugene Farr, a former president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, said in a statement the school needs to respond with "firm and significant action."
"As these students wave confederate flags and discuss 'honoring heroes,' they are raising a red flag about their mindset. We need to respond with firm and significant action. If we do not, racism and ignorance will show up in our schools again and again," he said. "The confederate flag is a symbol heavy with the torture, abuse, and blood of enslaved people whose labor literally built our country. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior in the school district nor in the community.”
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Tom Forcella told WRAL that the students are not likely to be punished because it does not fall under the system’s definition of cyberbullying.
He also said the school system needs to do a better job of giving students who go on the trip more context to "help them understand what the meaning of different symbols are."
Creatore asked for some understanding for his daughter.
"I want the person who has a 17-year-old who has never had never make a mistake to be the one to judge her," he said.