NEW ORLEANS - The president of Brother Martin High School is apologizing after a skit at a pep rally last week offended some students and parents who thought it was racially insensitive.
Now, both he and the Principal of St. Augustine High School are hoping the controversy will end with a lesson in diversity.
Friday night football in Tad Gormley Stadium pitted the Brother Martin Crusaders against the St. Augustine Purple Knights.
Before the game, Brother Martin held a pep rally, like they do before every football game, featuring a skit.
“At this one, because of the ‘Batman’ and the ‘Dark Knight’ and the Purple Knights, that's the direction it went in,” said Brother Martin President John Devlin.
At a predominately-white school, students portrayed St. Aug players as "dark knights" in the skit, wearing purple hoods with black shrouds over their faces. It’s something that offended some of the African-American parents and students at Brother Martin, according to the group, "Color of Change".
“The students that designed the pep rally. Some of them are African-American students. The principal is meeting with the students after school to find out, what were you thinking? What was behind this,” Devlin said.
St. Aug is a predominately African-American school.
“Shocked and obviously quite disturbed by a number of the pictures and the overall message the impression that was given, the symbolism there,” said St. Aug Principal Father John Raphael.
The hero in the skit was "The Spirit", one of Brother Martin's mascots.
It's face was covered in a red shroud, and President Devlin said that's likely why the "dark knights" were shrouded, yet, he apologized for the skit.
“It was not properly monitored or supervised by us before the pep rally took place. It included some inappropriate images. It included some insensitive images,” Devlin said.
“The connection between that and traditional blackface is a reasonable connection to make, since they were white students portraying students at an African-American school. I don't think that's much of a stretch,” Raphael said.
And Raphael said one of the more offensive images was that at the end of the skit, the only African-American student dressed as a "dark knight" was arrested.
“The African-American students who were present and who witnessed that, there was an appeal to stereotypes of a very demeaning sort,” Raphael said.
Now, both school leaders are planning to have joint student council meetings to teach students and teachers something about sensitivity, tolerance and diversity from the incident.
Brother Martin has since removed the pep rally pictures from the school's website.