For Release: December 12, 2007
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11
Black Activists Renew Condemnation of Local Ohio NAACP Chapter for Interference in School Play
Federal Tax Dollars Now Sought to Prolong Baseless Protest of Agatha Christie Play
Washington, D.C. - Members of the Project 21 black leadership network have renewed criticism of the Butler County (Ohio) chapter of the NAACP and its executive director over the group's new call for federal intervention into a local school district. The NAACP is protesting a student presentation of the Agatha Christie play "And Then There Were None."
Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie says the local NAACP chapter chairman, Gary Hines, deceived him when Hines told Massie that he is not trying to intimidate Lakota administrators or its school board. Hines repeatedly insisted to Massie that he was not attempting to have the play canceled. Massie considers Hines' request for federal intervention a contradiction of this assertion.
"Mr. Hines' actions support my previous contention that he has little interest for anything but furthering his own petulant and peevish agenda," said Massie.
A threatened protest by Hines in November led Lakota Local Schools in Liberty Township, Ohio to cancel the play at Lakota East High School. Administrators switched to a revised script with an alternative title and rescheduled the play for December 13 and 14. Hines complains that school officials will not meet with him about the play, and has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to request a taxpayer-funded federal mediator.
Hines, a longtime critic of the school district, claimed the school play - which originally was being produced under the title "Ten Little Indians" - is about "genocide." Hines claimed the school district revealed racial insensitivity by allowing the play to be performed because the title of the original 1939 British novel on which the play is based used the "n-word," and its cover featured black figures drawn with offensive characteristics.
That version of the novel did not appear in the United States. Plays and movies based upon the novel in the United States never carried the offensive graphic or title.
"And Then There Were None" is a murder-mystery about a group of people being stalked by a killer on an isolated island. There are no black or Indian characters. The title refers to a nursery rhyme used by the killer.
"In the adult world, people do not have to talk to someone just because that person demands it. Only someone with a perverted sense of importance or a bully would not understand that," said Massie. "While I was fully aware that Mr. Hines was less than forthcoming in our private conversation, I am deeply disappointed in his lack of honesty."
Project 21 previously addressed this controversy in a November 29 press release.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.