An Alabama high school principal issued an apology Monday after an offensive "Trail of Tears" banner featured at the school’s football game Friday went viral.
Tod Humphries, the principal at McAdory High School in McCalla, Ala., wrote on the school’s website that the racially charged sign below, which references the forced relocation of Native Americans during the 1830s, "was not condoned by the school administration, the Jefferson County Board of Education or the community."
"The person who would normally be responsible for approving such signs is out on maternity leave, and I take full responsibility that arrangements were not made to have the signs pre-approved before the ballgame," Humphries wrote, referring to Friday’s playoff game against the Pinson Valley High Indians.
"Please accept our sincere apologies to the Native American people and to anyone who was offended by the reference to an event that is a stain on our nation’s past forever."
Subsequently, Jefferson County Board of Education Superintendent Stephen Nowlin posted his own message to the county’s web site. In acknowledging Humphries’ original message, Nowlin wrote:
"The cheerleading squad will be disciplined. The sponsor of the cheerleaders was on maternity leave and the sign was not approved in advance by the school administration. The principal is asking all social studies teachers to teach each grade a lesson about the real Trail of Tears. We can use this unfortunate event as an important teachable moment. We apologize to all Native Americans and to any person who was offended. Our curriculum department will ensure that all students in the future will have a lesson on the Trail of Tears."
Humphries also added in his note that all social studies and history teachers at McAdory High (whose nickname is the Yellowjackets) will review the history of the Trail of Tears and the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
McAdory’s football team defeated Pinson Valley 34-17 and will hit the road to face unbeaten Southside-Gadsden in a 5A state quarterfinal game Friday.