Blackface Post Could Result in Coach’s Termination

Andy Berg Headshot

A high school coach and substitute teacher has been suspended after posing for and posting a picture of himself in blackface on Facebook.

According to the local Nashville Fox affiliate, Brown County Schools superintendent Laura Hammack has recommended dismissal of Richard Gist, who had been a substitute teacher, as well as an assistant track and football coach in the district since February 2018.

"It was a sincere disconnect and I’m so sorry that Brown County has been aligned with a post that was of this nature, and I just want the community to know that Brown County is a very, very special place and that one post does not speak to who we are as a community," Hammack said in a statement.

The post was reported to Hammack by a concerned community member.

For his part, Gist told Fox that the post was taken out of context.

"In approximately 2008 or 2007, or thereabouts, on Halloween I dressed up as Bob Marley, a character that I admire who spreads love, peace, and hope, and I dressed up as this person out of respect for him and what he believes and not in the intent of offending anybody or insinuating that another race is superior to any other," Gist said.

Gist is also a volunteer little league coach in Brown County. Parks and Recreation director Mark Shield defended Gist.

"I can’t see there being any sort of racism or anything that he would portray. I think he’s been a really good guy and has really helped out our department in the past," Shields said.

The Brown County School Board will decide whether to terminate Gist at a meeting in early February.

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