Freedom of Speech Violated When School Board Member Forced to Resign After Calling Black Colleagues “Darkies”

School board trustee, Glenn Odom, is being forced to resign after using a derogatory name to reference his Black colleagues on the board.

According to the Florence Morning News, Odom, now a former Florence School District 1 board member, referred to his Black colleagues on the school board as “darkies” in an email to another district employee on August 29th. A copy of the emails were obtained by the news agency and revealed that Odom was asking the district employee to help him get a ride from fellow board members.

“Would you be so kind as to send an email out to the Board asking if I could get a ride? Just don’t send it to the darkies,” Odom asked the employee in the email. In an apparent realization of the gravity of his words, Odom sent a follow up email to the employee saying, “That was in jest about the darkies.”

ABC News reports that upon receipt of the emails, the district employee reported the exchange from Odom to district officials.

What has not been revealed however is the nature of the relationship between Odom and the district employee. Did they share mutual sentiments towards Black people which is why Odom felt that he could, in jest, refer to the other board members as “darkies”. Has Odom ever expressed his views about Black people before?

According to WPDE, Odom tended his resignation on October 2nd. His reason for his resignation did not refer to the email incident but rather the fact that he was moving out of the district. Plans to move however were never confirmed and his home is not currently up for sale or rental. Odom has been on the school board for the last 25 years.

In reference to the email scandal, Odom said, “It was a mistake” and “I should not have done it.”

Barry Townsend, chairman for Florence School District 1, said that he and vice chairman Trisha Caulder met with Odom on two separate occasions in regards to the matter and suggested to him that he resign.

“There is no place in this district where this sort of speech is tolerated. Even in jest,” Townsend said Thursday.

Other board members, rightfully outraged about the incident, called for a change in the leadership citing the mishandling of the matter. The board expressed their disapproval in how the board’s leadership knew about the emails soon after they were sent but failed to notify the remaining board members until September giving Odom two additional months on the board.

Some activists have called for the board to undergo racial and cultural training following the incident.