Bonner agrees to public apology

By Staff, 01/10/17 11:00 AM


BLEVINS – Only 28 members of the public were allowed in the Blevins School Board meeting room Monday night for the board’s January meeting.

This was done, according to Superintendent Billy Lee, to adhere to fire codes. Prior to the meeting, several people had gathered outside the administration building to show their support for board member Ted Bonner, who has been the subject of protests because of a Halloween costume where he appeared in black face. A public address system was set up outside the administration building for those who couldn’t get in. This allowed them to hear what went on during the meeting.

Bonner has apologized for his actions on three separate occasions, and agreed to make a public apology at a time and date to be determined.

Board member Carl McGill spoke to those gathered after the meeting adjourned, saying this nation has a president-elect who has made negative remarks about minorities people don’t like, yet has never apologized for what he’s said. He added, the president-elect also has a prospective member of his cabinet who’s a member of the New York State Board of Education who has made disparaging comments about minorities and hasn’t apologized, yet Bonner has apologized three times and it’s not being considered enough.

“Many in the community don’t think he’s given an earnest apology. I ask if he would stand before everyone in the community in the gym and apologize.” Bonner agreed to do this.

McGill continued saying when this is done the community need to listen to what Bonner says. “We have to own our own community and not let those outside dictate what we do. We’ve all made mistakes and all have levels of prejudice, some more than others about different things, but we can try to be better.” The Blevins School District, he added, isn’t unique, pointing out less than a week after Donald Trump was elected president there were more than 2,500 racial incidents occur in schools across the nation.

“We need to give Ted a chance to apologize.” McGill suggested members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Arkansas School Board Association (ASBA) and Blevins board get together and have some kind of sensitivity training to help prevent such things from occurring in the future. “Let’s not let something fester and get out of control and destroy our school,” he said. “We need each other to keep this school going and if we don’t do the right thing we can destroy our school.”

McGill said he knows not everyone will accept Bonner’s apology, but Bonner should be given the chance to make amends.

Bonner agreed to the public apology and suggested McGill set the time and date with Lee.

At the December meeting of the board, members of the NAACP were on hand with several protestors denouncing Bonner’s actions and calling for him to be removed from the board. However, as an elected official, Bonner would have to voluntarily step down as there is no mechanism in place to remove an elected official.

Prior to the January board meeting Bonner said he had been invited to private Halloween party and been asked to come in black face as others were dressing as people of other races. However, a photo of Bonner was taken and put on social media where it went viral.

During an executive session of the board’s meeting Lee said only 137 students showed up in K-12 for school Monday because parents were afraid to send their children to school because of threats made on social media concerning 300 protestors being at the school and having members of the Black Panthers there.


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