Principal Apologizes for ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner, Makes It a Teaching Moment
It’s been the banner read ‘round the social media world. The 20-foot-tall “Hey Indians, Get Ready to Leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2” banner was displayed at a McAdory High School football game last weekend and since caused outrage online.
Monday, McAdory High School Principal Tod Humphries issued an apology on the school’s website and today he reached out to ICTMN. He said he wanted to ensure the public he felt remorseful about the incident and that the sign was a mistake, not malicious.
“I knew when the sign popped up that it was a mistake. The woman that oversees this was on maternity leave, but I know this is not an excuse. I don’t know what else to say other than it was wrong,” Humphries said.
“That is not what we are. The adults in the audience and in the stands understood immediately when the sign went up that it was wrong. I know this perception is not out there right now, but it is not who we are.”
Humphries expressed concern that his school would be seen as a stereotypical Alabama “redneck” school that did not care about the history of Indians. Humphries says nothing could be further from the truth and that the school is extremely diverse.
“We are a very diverse school, with 40 percent African-American, 15 percent Hispanic, rich and poor and everybody gets along. We are probably the most diverse school in our district. Our school is also very family oriented,” Humphries said.
“Most people in the South are part Native American. If you asked our classes who has Native American ancestry, about half the class will raise their hands. The Creeks were here—the Cherokee and the Scots-Irish came in here and intermarried. Most of us here have Native American blood, however ignorance can still slip in about the history of us,” said Humphries.
Humphries also said the moment, though difficult, was an opportunity for teaching.
“We are going to take buses and travel Friday to Gadsden, Alabama to visit the Native American man who has a Indian Removal Act Museum,” Humphries said. “We will be taking the cheerleaders and the student government.”
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