Petition from Former Athletes and Alums Calls on Falwell to Retract Blackface/KKK Mask Tweet

Today, thirty-five African-American pastors, alums, and former athletes from Liberty University started a petition calling on Jerry Falwell, Jr. to change his ways, delete his racist blackface/KKK mask tweet, and apologize (see this post describing the mask).

Apparently, anyone can sign it and it is addressed to Falwell. The petition acknowledges that the Board of Directors isn’t going to remove him. Take that in for a minute. Nearly any other college president in the land would be removed from office for the behavior cited in this letter, but these writers have already bypassed that as an objective.

The letter writers make explicit what I believed would begin happening soon:

 Lastly, we leave you with this. Because of your callous rhetoric, we can no longer in good faith encourage students to attend our alma mater or accept athletic scholarships. There are many Christians of color who worship in our churches and communities; we will not recommend their attendance at L.U. as long as you continue the unChristlike rhetoric. We will no longer donate funds to the university. We will also actively encourage Christian leaders to decline the invitation to speak at Liberty if you continue to insist on making unChristlike and inappropriate statements that are misrepresentative of Biblical Christianity.

Go read the whole thing here.

Thus far, an online professor has resigned, and a student has written an open letter of protest over Falwell’s actions.  Falwell’s response has been defiant and unapologetic.

Eric Green is a former Pittsburgh Steeler standout and Liberty U. alum who signed the petition. There are 3 other former NFL players who signed and one current player (Walt Aikens). If these NFL players don’t help Liberty recruit and in fact discourage black student-athletes from attending LU, this could present Falwell with a problem I feel sure he didn’t anticipate.

At 5:45pm, 2100 had signed. The server was down a good part of the day and the total went up 25 in the time it took me to type this. At 11pm, over 8100 have signed on.

12 thoughts on “Petition from Former Athletes and Alums Calls on Falwell to Retract Blackface/KKK Mask Tweet”

  1. Given the use of gas and rubber bullets for Trump to have his photo-op outside St. John’s Church, maybe the Governor of VA should send in the state police and National Guard to gas Jerry Jr.

  2. Anything short of actual criminality (or gay sex, I guess) and Falwell isn’t going anywhere. I would be shocked if he even retires. They’re literally going to have to take the LU presidency from his cold dead hands which could be another 30 years yet.

    Oh, and he just tweeted that he originally forgave Northam for the blackface incident and practically stated that his forgiveness has been rescinded because of the completely unrelated cost cutting policy decision that will cut assistance to some disadvantaged LU students.

    It’s one thing to take back your forgiveness if you find out it was obtained under false pretenses, but I’ve never heard of anyone revoking forgiveness because of they made a policy decision you didn’t like. I didn’t think forgiveness worked that way…

  3. It would be nice if this petition actually accomplished something. Unfortunately I suspect it won’t. Evangelical Christians of Falwell’s type are the scum of the earth and most will probably support him in this.

  4. I was talking yesterday to a highly-intelligent and very well-educated African-American friend. People like Falwell just don’t get it: African-Americans, including many who enjoy advantages that white supremacists would like to reserve to themselves, have had more than enough of being perceived as second-class citizens; because of the high levels of poverty in many places, large numbers of them feel that they have nothing to lose by responding forcefully to what they (and I and many others) regard as the injustices visited upon them. It doesn’t excuse the violent aspects of the current uprising (and that is what it is, by the way), but it is an important part of the explanation for them. The current crop of leaders in the United States ignore this at their (and many others’) peril.

  5. “The petition acknowledges that the Board of Directors isn’t going to remove him.”

    isn’t going to remove him “yet.” If this petition is successful in forcing Falwell to admit what he did was wrong, then it will indicate that Falwell is vulnerable if he pisses off enough people.

    I think of this petition as the “magna carta” for LU. Basically telling Falwell, “You may have been appointed by god, but you are answerable to others besides him.”

    1. What is the legal setup of Liberty University? I know at my university ultimate power now rests with the Board of Trustees. When initially set up (some 130 years ago) that power rested with the married couple who founded and funded the university (though they brought in an experienced college president to actually run it). There was a Board of Trustees but its main purpose may have been to give advice and to eventually take over when the founders died. They officially took over when the widow stepped down from her founder’s role and became just a trustee though effectively they only took over when she died.

      Liberty University’s web page on the trustees is remarkably light on what they do and who they are and the list seems to contain at least one Falwell relative in addition to Jerry Falwell himself. How independent are they? How often do they meet? Are they paid for their duties (my university’s trustees are not beyond some of the poorest ones getting expenses reimbursed if the trustees do an extraordinary trip such as visiting another university to see how they do things).

      1. I don’t think it matters. It’s been eminently clear for years that Falwell says and does whatever he likes. He is in complete control and the Board of Trustees is nothing more than a rubber stamp body. Unfortunately, this is nothing unusual for large evangelical organizations, especially those run by their founder or offspring thereof. It’s a facade, a mirage of accountability, where the members of the board are typically trusted allies of or related to the boss.

        Falwell is president for life, not unlike the way Putin will rule Russia for as long as he cares to.

  6. I don’t think Jerry has a “board”-I think they are just minions who do his bidding.

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