A retired Oklahoma teacher presented a black teacher with a white robe and Confederate flag last week during a conference.
Larry Long, who was recognized for nearly 49 years as an agriculture teacher, called a black colleague to join him before an audience of about 500 people at a state CareerTech conference in Oklahoma City, reported NewsOK.
Long then presented the man, who is apparently a friend, and handed him the flag and Ku Klux Klan-style robe and hood.
The retired teacher’s actions drew strong criticism from state lawmakers, and the state agency that oversees the career program has launched an investigation.
“It was supposed to be some kind of a joke, but I haven’t talked to anyone that can see anything funny about that,” said state Sen. Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa), chairman of the Black Caucus.
Elk City Public Schools voted in May to rename the school’s agriculture building after Long, and Matthews said he would discuss the matter with other members of the Black Caucus to see whether they would ask the school board to reconsider.
Long, who was listed last year as a teacher, is a recipient of the National Association of Agriculture Educator’s outstanding service award and a former teacher of the year in Elk City.
State Rep. Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City) said he spoke to the black teacher, who knew he would be called to the stage but may not have known he would be presented with the racially charged items.
“I did get a chance to have a conversation with him, and he recognized the magnitude of the situation,” said Shelton, who declined to identify the teacher.