Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP
DETROIT – The recent response to the Denby and Almont High School District 5 finals by the Superintendent of the Almont School District is most disappointing. It appears the Superintendent is placing the entire responsibility on the backs of the Denby players. This shows a lack of understanding, sensitivity and creative balance to resolve not only this dispute but to use this incident as a teaching moment. The experience of black youth at this football game in which they were spat upon, called the n-word, pushed and excoriated by adults supporting the Almont team must weigh heavily on any decision made. This is particularly important as it relates to discipline or accountability for any individual involved. Where is the evidence of the Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office, or the Almont School District that this incident was stimulated, motivated and perpetuated by only three black players from Denby High School?
Now is the time for grown folks to act like grown folks. There should be a coming together of both districts to address this unfortunate incident in a manner that precludes any further outrage. The Michigan High School Athletics Association must ensure greater diversity, training and accountability on the field, during the game, and at the conclusion. There has been no coming together of the individuals involved in this incident. It is natural, although it may not be desirable, for young people to respond in this way to defend themselves or to stand up for their rights as demonstrated and reflected at the recent game. We do not support violence or verbal abuse by any individual or groups. However, we call upon the Superintendent of Almont, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Prosecutor’s office, the Detroit Public School Community District and any others involved to sit down around a common table to resolve this issue. Charging students who clearly were standing up for themselves and protecting their rights should not be condemned but should be understood. This is clearly a case where some have reacted on all sides in the midst of such hostility which involves not only black players but white players and white fans.
Click here — Bringing Charges Against Three Black Players Is Not The Answer — to read the statement in its entirety.