Confederate Flag at Jefferson Forest Sparks Outrage

Parents took to social media to protest the display of Confederate flags on school grounds by students.

Students and parents at Jefferson Forest High School in Bedford County have expressed outrage over photos posted on social media that showed a group of students brandishing Confederate flags on campus, Monday, Feb. 4.

The school’s “Country vs. Country Club” spirit day encouraged students to attend school dressed in either country-style casual or preppy attire.

The photos circulated on Snapchat, Monday, before being posted on Facebook, Tuesday, by Lyman Alan Connor, the father of an African-American student attending Jefferson Forest.

“(The) principal needs to take responsibility for permitting this type of behavior and issue a public apology,” Connor said. “If people want a Confederate flag, fine. Keep it at home in the sock drawer with other things that stink.”

The school released an unsigned statement to parents on Wednesday. The statement said the school was unaware of the photos being posted and the school day was not disrupted.

“It is troubling to see what has transpired on social media following the incident, as what has been alleged by many is simply not true and in no way reflects Jefferson Forest High School and the high standards we hold for our students and staff,” the statement said.

This is not the first time Jefferson Forest has come under heat from racial tensions.

In December, a student posted a video of himself holding a gun and yelling racial slurs. The school took “appropriate action” against the unnamed student.

Mother of five African-American children who attended Jefferson Forest from 2003 to 2018, Shelly Brown-Rainey said the school’s statement only blamed the media and did nothing constructive to address the issue.

According to Brown-Rainey, during her children’s time at the school, they had to endure racial slurs, threats against them and their parents and online bullying.

“I have come to the school over many years to speak with teachers and administrators on numerous occasions regarding racial harassment of my children, especially during the Obama administration,” Brown-Rainey said. “Don’t fool yourself into believing this school and community does not have major issues with race. The position (the school took) allows the students and their parents to think that they did absolutely nothing wrong, which cannot be further from the truth. I am saddened for the children of color in the school, and thankful mine are no longer there to see this happen in real time.”

Connor does not believe the school will do anything beyond the statement and said the problem will grow worse–especially in the context of current events.

The controversy comes just as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has come under fire for college medical school photos surfacing of him wearing blackface and allegedly donning a Ku Klux Klan hood in one of the pictures. State Attorney General Mark Herring has also admitted to wearing blackface in college.

“My fear is that this turns political, and it’s going that way fast,” Connor said, “Based on other things we are dealing with in (Virginia) at this time.”

Panyard is the Editor-in-Chief

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