Racial slur reveals a county's deep rift (copy)

The spirit rock at South Davidson High School and Middle School in Davidson County.This year, a student painted a racist message onto the rock, igniting a debate across the county: Was it harmless graffiti — a stupid decision by a single teen — or a dangerous call to racial violence?

A student painted a racist message onto the spirit rock at South Davidson High School and Middle School in Davidson County, igniting a debate across the county: Was it harmless graffiti, a stupid decision by a single teen or a dangerous call to racial violence?

The Washington Post article “Facebook post exposes racial divide” (Oct. 28) doesn’t tell the whole story; in fact, it misses the real story. The Davidson County I know is not the county I described to the Post. I told the reporter that if he wanted to know the true spirit of Davidson County, he needed to learn one name: Charles England. Charles England was the legendary football coach of Dunbar High School, winning five state championships before integration. He willingly stepped down to become an assistant coach at Lexington High School to facilitate integration. He spent his entire life working for racial reconciliation.

Whenever we had a racial incident in the past, I told the reporter, it was mediated in a manner that promoted healing and reconciliation — the Charlie England way. England’s name never appeared in his story and the historical references only reinforced the negative, prejudiced picture that he paints.

But the biggest mistake the Post and everyone else made was that they missed the real story. The story was not the one student who painted the racial slur, but the other students who immediately painted over those words. They made a powerful statement. The slur did not represent them, their school, their families or their community.

The article does not reflect who we are in Davidson County, but the South Davidson students who stepped in certainly do!

Ray N. Howell III

Lexington

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