The backlash became more personal for Megyn Kelly as current students from Kelly’s high school rejected her controversial statement that blackface was acceptable when she was growing up in Bethlehem, New York.
A group of students at Bethlehem Central High School, where the former NBC host graduated in 1988, said none of their parents could recall a time back in the 1980s when blackface was considered not racist, the Students for Peace and Survival at Bethlehem Central High School stated Sunday in an NBC News op-ed.
Kelly is an admired figure at her alma mater, where she was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2015.
NBC confirmed on Friday that it booted Kelly from her morning show. The firing was prompted by her panel discussion on Tuesday in which she defended wearing blackface for Halloween.
“You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a Black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK just as long as you were dressing as a character,” she stated.
A huge backlash prompted Kelly to apologize, but it wasn’t enough given her history of making racist comments, particularly as a Fox News host before joining NBC.
“We know full well that one of the hardest things to do is to apologize, and we thank her for doing so,” the students said. “But retroactively showing sensitivity isn’t nearly enough to prevent the cycle from continuing.”
Bethlehem is far from a racially diverse town, the students noted. It was 92 percent white and just 2.5 percent African-American, according the 2010 census. Minstrel shows were part of the city’s “sordid tradition” of humor at the expense of Black people. The local newspaper recorded that a minstrel show was performed for a school fundraiser in 1960, more than a decade before Kelly was born.
“The reason that Megyn’s comments about blackface being OK when she was a kid … were so offensive is that blackface is a projection of the racism that lies much deeper, and a symbol of times that are not quite as far past as we may wish to admit,” the students commented.