Hulond Humphries

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Hulond Humphries (born 1939) is a part-time hog farmer [1] and former principal at Randolph County High School who caused a national controversy in 1994 and 1995 after he threatened to cancel the high school's prom due to fears about interracial dating. In 1997, he again drew national attention after he was elected superintendent of Randolph County's school district.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Humphries has two children.[1]

Background[edit]

Humphries became principal of Randolph County High School in 1969. Randolph County High School is located in Wedowee, Alabama and, in 1994, had a student body that was roughly 62 percent white and 38 percent black. In 1974, the Randolph County Board of Education was sued by the parents of two children who Humphries allegedly expelled from school without due process. [3]

In 1994, Humphries began asking his students whether they planned to attend the prom "with somebody who is not of the same race". When several students answered yes, Humphries threatened to cancel the event, saying "How would that look at a prom, a bunch of mixed couples?".[1] Humphries reportedly claimed that he was concerned that interracial dating would lead to violence.[4] The junior class president, ReVonda Bowen, who has a black mother and a white father, reportedly asked Humphries what his order would require her to do. Humphries replied that ReVonda's parents had "made a mistake" by conceiving her. Humphries had long opposed interracial dating, as had some of his teachers; Humphries reportedly threatened to tell students' parents that they were dating interracially, as well as telling white girls that "no white boy would have them" after they had been with a black boy.[5]

Following the incident, parents across the district organized demonstrations and boycotted classes. About one fifth of the school's students did not attend classes for several days. Two local "Freedom Schools", held in African-American church buildings, were organized by local civil rights groups as a temporary alternative.[1] Eventually, Humphries was placed on paid leave by the local school board; he was also sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Bowen's parents. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference scheduled a demonstration in Wedowee, but this was canceled after Ku Klux Klan members from Georgia said that they would travel to Wedowee to stage a counterdemonstration. Threats were made against Bowen's family, and her home was guarded by FBI agents.[5]

Some white parents in the district, however, approved of Humphries' views; as a result, he was reinstated as principal two weeks after the incident. Humphries rescheduled the prom, which did occur. Bowen showed up with her white boyfriend, Chris Brown. Nine years later, she would write a book about her experiences, No Mistakes, No More Tears.[1][4][6]

Due to an arson fire which destroyed the school building in August 1994, Humphries was reassigned to the school district's central office. Humphries was one of the first to show up at the scene of the fire, and he reportedly shouted racial epithets at Bill Gill, a black cameraman who was filming the scene. Gill was beaten, but Humphries denied participating in his assault. Some black residents began staying indoors at night for fear of Ku Klux Klan retaliation, due to the fact that many white residents believed that blacks were responsible for the fire. A rally in support of Humphries was organized by the late white nationalist activist Richard Barrett and his Nationalist Movement.[1][5][7]

A year after the incident, the local school district reached an agreement which barred Humphries from all school grounds in the district during class hours; the ban was to have been effective until July 1997. The agreement also promoted racial equality in general, and then-Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick said that it removed "existing barriers to equality of educational opportunity." Some parents in the district felt that the agreement did not go far enough in punishing Humphries, however.[4]

Election as Superintendent[edit]

In July 1997, Humphries was elected as superintendent of the Randolph County school district, narrowly winning the Democratic primary and running unopposed in the general election.[2][6][8][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Heat of the Night". Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Alabama town fears new school superintendent's alleged bigotry". CNN. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  3. ^ "United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.". 
  4. ^ a b c Smothers, Ronald (January 11, 1995). "Once Principal, but Now Barred From All Schools". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Harrison, Eric (August 12, 1994). "Dating Changes, Discord Rock a Tiny Alabama Town - South: A principal is removed. A school is burned. But at heart of the tension is growing issue of race-mixing.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "No Mistakes, No More Tears: The Revonda Bowen Story". Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Richard Barrett". Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Wedowee". Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  9. ^ "The American Melting Pot? Miscegenation Laws in the United States". Retrieved October 28, 2009.