An Indiana high school assistant football and track coach was dismissed after a photo of the coach in blackface surfaced on social media.
According to Indiana Fox affiliate WXIN, Brown County (Ind.) High School assistant football and track coach Richard Gist was dismissed and recommended for termination by Brown County Superintendent Dr. Laura Hammack. The superintendent was first alerted to Gist’s blackface photo by a concerned area resident, who saw Gist’s photo on Facebook and was taken aback.
In an interview with WXIN, Gist insisted that the photo in question depicted him dressed up as Bob Marley for Halloween and nothing more.
“In approximately 2008 or 2007, or thereabouts, on Halloween I dressed up as Bob Marley, a character that I admire who spreads love, peace, and hope, and I dressed up as this person out of respect for him and what he believes and not in the intent of offending anybody or insinuating that another race is superior to any other,” Gist said.
In addition to his role as an assistant coach for multiple sports, Gist was a substitute teacher in schools throughout the district. He will not be allowed to continue in those roles, either.
“It was a sincere disconnect and I’m so sorry that Brown County has been aligned with a post that was of this nature, and I just want the community to know that Brown County is a very, very special place and that one post does not speak to who we are as a community,” Hammack told WXIN.
For now, the coach is out of work having been dismissed by Hammack on Friday. The superintendent’s recommendation for dismissal will be taken up at the school board’s February meeting.