- Asia Todd, a women’s basketball player at Liberty University, says she’s transferring because of “racial insensitivities” shown by school leadership.
- Two weeks ago LU president Jerry Falwell Jr. tweeted a picture of a face mask with a photo of someone in blackface and a person in KKK robes superimposed on it.
- The photo, which first resurfaced in 2019, appeared in Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook in the 1980s. Northam initially admitted he was in the photo, then denied it.
- Dozens of Black LU alum have called on Falwell to resign, and at least four staff members have left the college.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A top player for Liberty University’s women’s basketball team has announced she is leaving the school two weeks after school president Jerry Falwell Jr tweeted a picture of a face mask with the image of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in blackface.
In a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, sophomore Asia Todd said she’d entered her name into the NCAA transfer portal “and will no longer be attending Liberty University,” WSET reported.
“The racial insensitivities shown within the leadership and culture simply do not align with my moral compass or personal convictions, therefore I did what I felt was best within my heart and stand up for what is right,” she said.
Todd, who averaged 8.6 points for the Liberty Flames last season, was the college’s first Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team Honoree, according to The Sporting News.
“Please know that this decision was not taken lightly,” she added. “This decision had nothing to do with basketball or the program. This decision was simply bigger than basketball.”
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
Todd had been addressing racial injustice on her Twitter feed for several days and indicated she attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 30.
These times are proving that life is bigger than sports. The reality is that there are real battles that needs to be won.
— Asia Todd???????????????? (@hoopersgalore_) June 1, 2020
Todd did not respond to a request for comment. Liberty University told Insider that, “regarding Asia Todd, NCAA rules prohibit discussing a student-athlete who has entered the transfer portal.”
Her departure is the latest fallout since May 27, when Falwell posted a tweet in protest of Gov. Northam’s advisory that Virginians wear face masks to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“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 wrote, referencing allegations Northam donned blackface at a Halloween party in 1984.
The photo, depicting someone in blackface standing next to another person in a Klu Klux Klan robe, first resurfaced in February 2019. Northam initially admitted he was in the picture, but then he denied it a day later. He did, however, acknowledge putting on blackface to dress up like Michael Jackson.
Falwell’s tweet included a picture of a face mask with the photo of the Klansman and person in blackface superimposed on it.
On June 1, an open letter from 35 Black LU alumni said Falwell’s tweet made light “of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism.”
“For several years, you have said and defended inappropriate statements that represent Liberty and our faith very poorly,” it read. “You have belittled staff, students, and parents, you have defended inappropriate behaviours of politicians, encouraged violence, and disrespected people of other faiths.”
The signatories called on Falwell to step down as president.
At least four black faculty and staff members have resigned since Falwell’s tweet was sent, Inside Higher Ed reported. One of the most notable was Quan McLaurin, the school’s director of diversity retention. A representative for Liberty University told Insider the school “does not discuss personnel matters.” But McLaurin told the Washington Post that between 2007 and 2018, Liberty’s student body has gone from 10% Black to 4%.
“Some draw a direct line between the start of President Falwell’s divisive, insensitive, and unapologetic approach to politics and that drop,” he said.
McLaurin has launched the “LUnderground Railroad,” a GoFundMe for Liberty University employees who wish to resign but are unable to because of financial concerns. To date, it has raised more than $US12,000 of its $US30,000 goal.
Falwell deleted the blackface tweet on Monday.
“I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor’s racist past I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point,” he tweeted that afternoon.
Liberty University was established in 1971 by evangelist Jerry Falwell, the father of the current president.
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