Liberty University has been rattled by the exit of several black student-athletes and staff members after the school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., sent off a racist tweet to mock Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the Associated Press reports.
Falwell last month voiced his opposition to a mandate requiring Virginia residents wear face coverings in public and, in a swipe at Northam, said he would only wear a mask if it featured a photo from the governor’s medical school yearbook page that showed a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and another man in blackface.
At least four Black staff members have left the school so far and the same number of Black athletes have announced they are leaving the Christian institution over Falwell’s tweet, according to The AP.
The report comes weeks after a group of Black graduates signed a letter condemning Falwell for the tweet and demanding he apologize.
“I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!” Falwell said in the since-deleted tweet.
Falwell later apologized for his tweet after drawing swift backlash from many online and from Black alumni for using the racist imagery.
However, Falwell’s apology hasn’t stopped several Black staff members and a number of athletes from leaving the school in recent weeks.
Two football players at the school, Kei’Trel Clark and Tayvion Land were among the latest black student-athletes this week to announce their intentions to leave the university, citing issues like the school’s “racial insensitivity” and “cultural incompetent within multiple levels of leadership,” according to The AP.
*Announcement* I have entered my name into the transfer portal I will no longer be attending Liberty University please respect my decision ✊🏿. pic.twitter.com/HmsHD7DeRJ
— Kei’Trel (Tre) Clark™️ (@_treclark) June 22, 2020
PLEASE RESPECT MY DECISION‼️ pic.twitter.com/Ljti2CJOWb
— Tayvion Land (@LandTayvion) June 22, 2020
Notre Dame is reportedly in talks with Tayvion Land after his departure from Liberty University.
Basketball player Asia Todd also announced earlier this month that she would be leaving the school in a video while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.
Announcement: I have entered my name into the Transfer Portal and will no longer be attending Liberty University 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/LwESGkjwNs
— Asia Todd🔛🔝🔜🏀 (@hoopersgalore_) June 11, 2020
The exodus also comes as protests against racism and police treatment of Black Americans continue across the country following the police killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks.