A Fort Bragg organization’s Facebook page promoted a photo of two white children dressed as marionette puppets in blackface, WTVD reports.
The image was posted by the Fort Bragg’s Family and Morale, Welfare, Recreational support group Facebook page to promote a “Spooktacular Halloween party later this month before it was taken down. The caption urged people to get their costumes ready.
— Akilah Davis (@DavisABC11) October 14, 2017
“I think it’s disgusting,” said Genessa Bingham, whose father is deployed overseas. “This is what’s wrong with the country right now. People can just be as racist as they want. Then you’re supposed to laugh it off. You know, segregation wasn’t that long ago. My dad is African American.”
“It’s sending the wrong message to kids,” added local resident James Pearson. “What people control black people, you know? That’s the way I perceive it.”
The group issued an apology after removing the post.
“Fort Bragg Family and MWR was made aware of a recent Facebook photo that was offensive and should not have been posted,” the posted on their page. “The photo has been removed and does not represent the views of our organization. We sincerely apologize for any offense caused and will work to ensure this does not happen again.”
But the Bingham family questions if they can support the group again.
“How can you expect us to want to support this installation and organization when you have no respect for our people?” Tammi Bingham told WTVD.
The racist display comes at a time when Fort Bragg is grappling with its identity. As more social justice groups in the South push to remove Confederate statues, many are also pointing to military bases as reminders of the South’s unfortunate history of race relations.
Fort Bragg is one of eight US Army bases named after Confederate generals. The others include Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia, Fort Polk in Louisiana, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort A.P. Hill and Fort Lee in Virginia, and Fort Rucker in Alabama. There are also several National Guard facilities, like Fort Picketts in Virginia and Camp Beauregard in Louisiana, named after Confederate generals.
As Professor Michael Newcity wrote for Duke Today, “It seems odd that the U.S. Army ever considered naming its bases after men who, by definition, conducted war against the United States. It seems even odder that a military force in which racial minorities comprise one-quarter to one-third of the force would be asked to serve on bases named after men who fought to maintain slavery.”
Gen. Braxton Bragg rose to prominence as a hero during the Mexican-American War but later went on to become a Confederate army general who was later dubbed “The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy” over his tensions with his own subordinates.
A group of mostly African-American House Democrats have proposed legislation to make the Defense Secretary rename any military property “that is currently named after any individual who took up arms against the United States during the American Civil War or any individual or entity that supported such efforts.”
Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke in favor of the legislation, saying, “There are no bases in Germany named for Hitler or Goering.”
“The losers of that horrendous war are symbols of the vanquished, to be studied but not to be glorified,” he added.