HAYWOOD COUNTY, NC (WLOS) — After a shared Facebook post sparked outrage among many online, Haywood County Schools Superintendent Bill Nolte is apologizing.
Nolte says he realizes, in hindsight, that the post he shared was insensitive. The since-deleted post showed what appeared to be white children picking cotton with text overlaying that read “POOR CHILDREN OF EVERY COLOR PICKED COTTON, OPEN A BOOK AND GAIN SOME KNOWLEDGE.”
The image has been shared by many people pushing back on the discussion of systemic racism, and that African Americans were enslaved and forced to pick cotton. Nolte had re-posted the image without any additional comment.
Haywood County Schools Superintendent Bill Nolte says a post he shared on Facebook, which said, in part, “Poor children of every color picked cotton,” was meant to highlight income issues, not racial. Screenshots of the since-deleted post shared online generated outrage and discourse.
“What I would say to people who were offended is, I’m really sorry,” Nolte told News 13 . “I apologized on Facebook about that. I was thinking about a derogatory racial post I had seen. And, I was responding to it and, clearly, that post was the wrong post.”
Since deleting the initial post, Nolte wrote on Facebook that he had seen a BET story about Robin Roberts and an ABC Network executive who had reportedly made a racist comment about her salary demands. Nolte explained the executive allegedly stated during a network meeting that it wasn’t like Roberts was being forced to ‘pick cotton.”
The article and related stories were largely published in June. Nolte said he had read about the story and was appalled. He said he re-posted the white children picking cotton meme, thinking about how his white ancestors also picked cotton, and how he felt that also tied into discussion related to the racist comment.
As some people began criticizing Nolte on his Facebook page, he explained that his ancestors picked cotton for income and that’s why the meme he re-posted resonated with him.
Haywood County Schools Superintendent Bill Nolte says he shared the Facebook post that’s caused outrage and discourse after watching a BET story about Robin Roberts. He says the post was in regard to “appalling” comments made by executives on Roberts’ salary demands.
“He made a reference to his family, that they were receiving income,” said Kasey Steffen, who has two children in the district. “[He said] that it wasn’t about race, it was about income. For all of those Black people who were out there, they got no income, they were forced to do that. He is the most powerful person in education in our county. So, I have a real problem that he doesn’t understand this.”
While many criticized the superintendent for the post that he’s since removed, Nolte also had people posting in support of him.
“People who know me, know my history and the work I’ve done for students, and people who’ve been marginalized,” Nolte commented. “I’ve spent much of my career focused on equity.”
Nolte said he recently brought in representatives from the NAACP to assist with racial sensitivity training for teachers. He said he sincerely regrets the post and realizes why people were offended by it.
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