NAACP wants action after Ballard watermelon stunt

The group revealed students of color played a role in the incident.

Photo of students passing watermelon sparks controversy

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Last Friday, a football game’s cheers changed to jeers as a believed stereotype moved through the stands. The stunt has community leaders asking for action in the classroom.

It happened on September 7. Students at Ballard High were seen passing around a watermelon in the stands during their game with Central High School, a historically African-American school.

A Courier-Journal photographer caught the move on film.

A Courier-Journal photographer captured Ballard High students passing around a watermelon during Friday's game against Central High. (Source: Courtesy of The Courier-Journal)
A Courier-Journal photographer captured Ballard High students passing around a watermelon during Friday's game against Central High. (Source: Courtesy of The Courier-Journal) (Source: Pat McDonogh, The Courier-Journal)

On Thursday, Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham brought new information regarding the stunt to light. He revealed their investigations found that students of color were involved in the incident. He said he found that discovery disturbing.

Cunningham said that makes it all the more important that all students today be educated on African-American history and hurtful stereotypes.

“We’ve learned that the incident actually involved students of color,” Cunningham said. “The event indicates an absence of cultural understanding and what the action represents.”

VIDEO: NAACP news conference on football game incidents

Among their requests: Ballard should discuss the matter with the entire school and JCPS should offer elective African-American history courses to all students.

“Dr. Neuss, the principal of Ballard, and I have worked extensively every day to work toward resolution,” Central High Principal Raymond Green said.

Central High’s principal said he and Ballard’s principal are already talking with community partners to help students evolve.

“It’s all the more imperative for us as educators and as a community to ensure our students are learning history so we don’t repeat history,” Green said.

“Unfortunately, what happened on Friday maybe highlights the need for us to have these conversations,” JCPS Spokesperson Renee Murphy said.

As for the NAACP’s request that JCPS bring racial sensitivity into the classroom. JCPS said they’re already developing a plan to go with the district’s racial equity policy.

“It may be a part of social studies, or it may be integrated into different courses, and that’s what’s being discussed and talked about and really being nailed down at this point,” Murphy said.

Central’s principal said students are already learning and growing. During Tuesday’s volleyball game, Ballard players gave the Central Team yellow roses in a show of solidarity, which Green said is a great first step in growth and education.

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