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Coaches wearing t-shirts commemorating Black history handled improperly, according to Conway school officials



Conway, Arkansas – The Wampus Cat emblem and the words “Celebrate Black History” were printed on shirts that the Conway girls’ basketball team’s coaches wore last week.

The Conway community has expressed outrage, and many are not concerned with the shirts themselves but rather with Superintendent Jeff Collum’s order to make pupils take off their shirts.

“Actually, I was hurt,” a Black woman and teacher at Conway Junior High Pattie Randall said. “I was hurt, and I was very disappointed.”

Randall said that it was difficult to think that something like this could occur.

“It was just something that kinda, I was taken aback when I first heard about it,” Randall said. “I guess I can say I was angry about it. because like I said, this is just not something that should be happening in 2023.”

Collum clarified the situation during the Conway school board meeting on Tuesday night.
He said he initiated a directive to “pause on anything that was not our school colors and logo until we could have more discussions with staff and board.”

After being asked about the shirts on Wednesday following the game on Tuesday night, he responded by doing this.

Many individuals were curious as to who had been in touch with the superintendent over the shirts.

Board member David Naylor stated during the meeting that he brought the shirts to the superintendent’s attention after being questioned by others about whether or not they adhered to school policy.

“And I told them, look, there’s nothing wrong with the message on the shirt, so if you’re asking that there’s nothing wrong with that,” Naylor said. “I don’t know your answer on the protocol.”

However, the information had already gotten out, so Collum made the decision to write a letter regarding the mistake and how it was handled incorrectly.

The shirts are permitted, he continued in the letter.

The board agrees that this will serve as a lesson going forward.

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