Morehouse Parish School Board member Chastity Kennedy, no stranger to controversy, late last week defended herself on local television station KNOE (https://goo.gl/tYU5HZ) after some called a Facebook post she made racist.
On May 4 Kennedy posted a meme to her personal Facebook account that depicts a group of hooded people with the text "Okay, now for one with the hoods off!". The hoods appeared to make reference to the Ku Klux Klan hoods worn by members of that organization and had obviously been "photoshopped" to add the hoods to the original image. Below that picture was the same image without the hoods, revealing the original photograph of Vice- President Mike Pence and a group of U.S. House Republicans. The post is located on Kennedy's personal Facebook page (https://goo.gl/NomXlK).
Kennedy, who was recently named Administrative Assistant to Mayor-Elect Henry Cotton (https://goo.gl/MMUct4), did not appear on camera in the television story about the post. She did respond to written questions from the station. Kennedy said in her written reply to questions that, "It is my human right and first amendment right as an American citizen to speak or write about any subject."
She went on to voice her view that Republicans in Congress, in voting to dismantle the Affordable Healthcare Act were being, "inequitable and unjust".
In another written answer, Kennedy accuses the 4 white members of the Morehouse Parish School Board of possessing a "white supremacist mentality". Kennedy is quoted as saying, "whomever voiced this trivial and baseless complaint need not look any further than our own Morehouse Parish School Board, for the SAME WHITE SUPREMACIST MENTALITY, symbolized in this meme, exists within the 4 WHITE members of the Morehouse Parish School Board, and is reflective in their public policy decisions, which are ANTI-BLACK, ANTI-CHILDREN, ANTI-JUSTICE, ANTI-FAIRNESS and ANTI-EQUITY."
Kennedy is often at odds with a majority of the school board, often taking a stand against the other members on such topics as consolidating schools, the district's athletic director, and even the appointment of the current school board Superintendent Hazel Sellers. Sellers was appointed superintendent last year.
The television station, KNOE in Monroe, did reach out to School Board President Chip Rawls who was quoted as saying, "I'm disappointed that a school board member that represents all the children, black or white, the whole parish, would represents (sic) something so racial," Rawls said. "I feel that Ms. Kennedy is one individual, she doesn't represent the whole entire system."
On Monday of this week, a video from the April MPSB meeting was being circulated on social media (https://tinyurl.com/l78cqlw). The video shows the Board's prayer and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. In that video, Kennedy does not face the flag or recite the pledge. This social media post is also creating quite a controversy and a great deal of commenting on social media.
Kennedy was asked to comment on both the Facebook post and the video for this article. Her response was;
"I don't recall learning about any law, whether local, state or federal, that governs and requires a person, including elected officials, to say the pledge of allegiance. Furthermore, I have never agreed to nor would I agree to abide by any oppressive law such as that.
"Under my spiritual and cultural beliefs, and within my research, study, analysis, understanding and appreciation of American history, I know that it is my human and constitutional right to refrain from pledging allegiance to any entity that seeks to oppress, disenfranchise, mis-educate, mis-inform, dis-inform, rape, incarcerate, murder and destroy me and the majority of my fellow African-Americans who live in this country."
"Are you bold to enough within your 'White Privilege' to say that my spiritual and cultural beliefs have no value, and thus, cannot be exercised? This is obviously your position."
"When you and your White Supremacist colleagues mandate that European Jews pledge allegiance to the Nazi German flag, then come talk to me; until then, you can continue writing your biased and unprofessional articles."
Mayor-Elect Henry cotton was also contacted for comment, he said "I want to work with Chip (Rawls) and with Chastity. This Facebook stuff is stupid stuff"
Cotton said the recent events relative to these posts were a distraction. "This distraction stuff, I am paying no attention: Cotton said.
Cotton stated he is concerned with the dropout rate and crime in the City of Bastrop. "My concerns include fixing the dropout problem and crime. I'm not getting involved in this tit-for-tat race stuff,"Cotton stated.
"My first concern is public safety," Cotton said about when he takes office. "My whole objective is to make this a safe place."
As for Kennedy becoming his administrative assistant when he takes office Cotton said, "I've got to have the D.D. Green's (a City Councilman elect) and the Chastity Kennedy's." Cotton made reference to the growing black population of Bastrop and Morehouse Parish and helping mentor and train "new leaders" such as Green and Kennedy.
"I cry for this town, I ache," said Cotton. "If we don't stop this race stuff, we are going to slide into the abyss. We are almost there now."