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Tenn. University Finds 'It's OK to Be White' Signs

Signs cover memorial for first African-American students at East Tennessee State University
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2019 4:33 AM CST
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Stock photo.   (Getty Images/seb_ra)

(Newser) – East Tennessee State University is the latest college campus hit by a white supremacist campaign started by an internet group. "I am disgusted by this act," Brian Noland, university president, says in a statement cited by NBC News. That act: signs proclaiming "It's OK to be white" placed over a memorial display to the first African Americans who attended the university, at the beginning of a weekend when historically African-American fraternities and sororities at the school were set to receive tribute. WCYB has a photo of the signs, which were also put up early Friday elsewhere across campus, per Noland, who calls it "an attempt to seed division and discord" at the hands of white supremacist groups that has affected not only his school, but others across the nation over the past few years.

"In an act of vandalism, [racist] flyers were placed ... over the memorial plaques of those five pioneering individuals who desegregated our institution during the 1950s," Noland says in his statement. "It is clear that the posting and placement of these flyers was an attempt to create division in our community." NBC notes that last fall, the University of Vermont, Champlain College, and Tufts University, all in the Northeast, saw similar propaganda, apparently part of an online campaign that the Anti-Defamation League says was created by 4chan, which is popular with the alt-right. Noland, who tells the Tennessean that staff quickly removed the signs, adds the university is offering support to students and is investigating. "Our core values are clear: People come first and are treated with dignity and respect," he says. "We recognize the wounds that this incident has opened." (Read more Tennessee stories.)

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