By Terrica Hendrix
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Education Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have asked for the resignation of the Blevins School Board member who was recently pictured on social media accounts dressed in “blackface.”
Arkansas NAACP President Rizelle Aaron issued the following response to the school board:
“In light of the offensive and hateful actions of Blevins School Board Member Ted Bonner that he exhibited in his lack of social consciousness by portraying himself as a white man in ‘blackface,’ I’ve talked with School Board President Justice West and have requested that Mr. West ask for the resignation of Ted Bonner. I will pursue all available means necessary to address this situation, including a combined rally at the Blevins School District Administrative Offices.
“Ted Bonner’s service as a school board member that oversees a district of racially and culturally diverse students is an egregious act. Elected officials have an obligation to be a role model for our future leaders and Bonner has conducted himself in a manner that is unbecoming of an elected official and has brought embarrassment and negative national attention to the Blevins School District and the great State of Arkansas. Bonner should no longer be in a public position of authority, especially as it relates to the development of children. Bonner owes it to the Blevins School District and the State of Arkansas to [tender] his resignation immediately.”
Booner was pictured dressed in blackface holding a sign that read, “Blak [sic] Lives Matters.” Once the picture circulated around Blevins, the board member apologized at the end of a board meeting on Nov. 14.
Board president West addressed the audience and said, “There’s no ramifications; there’s no jurisdiction for the board to do anything to another elected official. The only way anything happens to an elected official is if the electorate decides to do something about it the next time they’re at the polls. That’s all I have to say about that. There’s no opinion going to be made; there’s no statement to be made because it’s not a board issue.”
Bonner also made a statement during the meeting.
“I’ll say I’m sorry,” Bonner said. “I went to a Halloween party as many people have done. I dressed as a black man. I’m sorry if I offended people. I did not do it intentionally. Only reason I’m here is for the kids. Whoever wrote I’m here not for the kids is bad wrong. I mean, the people that know me see what I’ve done at this school and for the community for kids; only reason I would ever even think of being on the board. I do apologize if I’ve offended anybody.”
West further advised his board members to “not to address anything further” regarding Bonner’s picture. He told the board to refrain from commenting on the situation. However, West later issued a statement that said the photos of Bonner in blackface were “very upsetting and distasteful” and a “thoughtless act.”
Barbara Patterson, a grandmother of three children attending Blevins School District, said she was “horrified and shocked” when she saw the picture of Bonner. Patterson, also a Blevins City Council member, echoed the words of the AEA and the NAACP and said she wanted Bonner to step down immediately.