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Mercer Community Responds to 'White History' Fliers

8:55 PM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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Mercer University students and staff are speaking out after a controversial flier promoting "White History Month" was distributed on campus.

The flier, which features a picture of Thomas Jefferson, questions the need for Black History Month and says that the issue of race in the election is "another example of unfairness towards white people."

Upon hearing about the fliers from his students, Professor Chester Fontenot, the director of the African American studies program at Mercer said "it was really a kind of deep sadness, that in 2012, we still have people who are not just stuck in the past, but stuck on stupid so to speak."

Students on the campus held a rally Tuesday night to protest the fliers.  Many say the the fliers not only don't speak for the majority of students, but that they were offensive.

"You ended up hurting a lot people," says freshman Lia Sewell. "Not just African Americans, you hurt all kinds of cultures, and there were other white people that did not think that was acceptable, so I think you need to go back, rethink it, and apologize."

Fontenot says the fliers demeaned the importance of Black History Month, which he says is important becuase many schools in the country often aren't educated in the contributions of minorities to society.

It's not the first time there has been a racial incident on the Mercer campus. Fontenot says once a sign for a Society of Black Engineers meeting was changed to say the n-word.

But aside from that, Fontenot says the university has a deep commitment to fairness and equality.  In the 1960's, when other Southern colleges had incidents spark up during integration, Mercer was ahead of the curve when it admitted Sam Oni in 1963 as the first African-American student.  Oni still visits Mercer for lectures.

And today, Mercer students say the flier is not what they're about.

"Everyone here at Mercer loves each other, and we're here as a family," says freshman Michael Rainwater.

 

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