NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The total is now three coaches who have been removed from St. Augustine High’s football program after a racially charged chant. The move has gotten widespread support, and the state high school athletic association has been monitoring the incident.
Eddie Bonine, the head of the Louisiana High school Athletic Association says his organization does not condone the use of the language he's seen on the locker room video, and neither do many alums.
Melvin Howard has a long history of law-enforcement, first with the NOPD, now with the Orleans Sheriff’s office, and was on the front lines, when St. Aug, an all black school, played all white St. Aloysius at Tad Gormley stadium in 1967, and he says 26,000 people packed the stands.
"And you can understand why because it was the first interracial football game in the state of Louisiana.
Howard was a wide receiver on the 1967 Purple Knight team.
He, and his fellow classmates had to endure vicious racial taunts, often involving the 'n' word.
“It was a tough thing to go through, name calling on the field, by players, not all, but some,” said Howard.
Howard was livid, when he heard the n-word, and other vulgarities, used again, in the video of a pre-game chant, not by opponents, but by those attending his alma mater.
“I know what it’s like I went through it, these kids don’t know what it’s like to have two restroom facilities, or sit behind a screen on the bus,...and I guess some of them don’t really care,” said Howard.
Coach Nathaniel Jones was fired and two assistant coaches have been removed from the football program since the video surfaced.
“I don’t like it, and I uphold what the Josephites, and what Dr. St. Charles did..100 percent,” said Howard.
He says given the history of that word he hopes that what happened at St. Augustine serves as an example for other schools institutions.
"I would hope so, it has to start someplace," said Howard.
Though some have expressed support for Coach Jones, Howard hopes there's never acceptance for a word that was used to demean, many of his classmates back when the struggle for civil rights was all too real.
“The kids today don’t understand the history, people died and went to jail for me, to be where I am,” said Howard.
St. Aug’s president appointed the team’s former defensive coordinator...Kenneth Dorsey Jr. as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2019 season.
In a statement, Dorsey said, “It is an honor to have the opportunity to be a mentor to our team in this new role,” ...adding, “I will work to make our students, alumni and fans across the country proud of St. Augustine and Purple Knight football.”
As for the LHSAA, president Bonine says he’s monitoring St. Aug’s response to the video, and is satisfied, with the actions taken by the school.