The president and CEO of Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Kentucky said Monday racially charged posts on her Facebook page do not represent the Owensboro agency.
Belinda Blair, president and CEO of Hospice, said she did post one of the posts, but said her page had been hacked and she didn’t post all of the posts.
One agency board member said the posts were disturbing, and the head of the Owensboro chapter of the NAACP said the hospice board needs to investigate.
Screenshots of three memes from Blair’s Facebook timeline were forwarded to the Messenger-Inquirer on Monday morning. The first shows what appears to be a Civil War battlefield with the caption:
“Over 620,000 people died to free black slaves and still to this day not even 1 thank you and now we’re known as racists.”
The second meme showed a Black man with a handgun to his head, with the gun held by a Black arm. The caption read: “If Black lives really mattered … they’d stop shooting each other!” The meme continued: “BLM (Black Lives Matter) is a LIE! Blaming others for the TRUTH!! 94% of all Blacks shot are shot by Blacks.”
The final meme shows what appears to be white children picking cotton, and says, “Poor children of every color picked cotton.”
The memes had all been removed when the Messenger-Inquirer looked at Blair’s Facebook page Monday morning.
When asked about the posts Monday, Blair noted the posts weren’t on the Hospice Facebook page.
“That’s nothing from Hospice Facebook, I’m sure,” Blair said.
When asked if the posts of an agency’s director should cause people to question the organization, Blair said, “I certainly hope not. If that is something I expect Hospice needs to be participating in, I would have (posted) it on Hospice’s Facebook.”
When asked about the content of the posts and if people would think they were racially charged, Blair said, “I would hope those people would call me and have the discussion with me to discuss my personal views.”
One person did call about a post, but it was not a member of the board, Blair said.
“I deleted (it) because my intention was never to offend anyone,” she said.
When asked if she thought Black people should thank white people for being freed from slavery, Blair said no, and said, “I was entitled to freedom just like they were. But it (slavery) was a horrible thing.”
Later in the interview, Blair said her Facebook page had been hacked, and there were “posts I didn’t post.”
When asked why she didn’t mention being hacked right away, Blair said, “I didn’t think about me being hacked until I started the conversation.”
Blair said she did post the meme related to cotton picking.
“I do remember posting something about children picking cotton as well,” she said. “I didn’t think that was offensive.”
Of the meme about shootings, Blair said, “I don’t remember posting that one at all. I abhor violence of any kind.”
Several attempts to reach members of the hospice board were unsuccessful. Board member John David Sandefur said he had not seen the posts but would look into the matter.
Board member and Owensboro City Commissioner Pam Smith-Wright, when shown the posts, said, “that’s kind of disturbing.”
“I don’t think anybody, who is of any color at all, wouldn’t think it’s offensive,” Smith-Wright said.
As the only Black member of the hospice board, Smith-Wright said, “of course, it’s going to offend me,” and said she would want to hear “what the rest of the board would say.”
The Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph, head of the Owensboro Chapter of the NAACP, said the board should investigate the posts.
If Blair was hacked and did not post all of the posts, Blair left them on her Facebook page, Randolph said.
“Even if she had been hacked, and mine has been hacked before, I tried to clean it up” and removed the content the hacker posted, Randolph said. Blair “chose to leave those things up.”
Regarding the meme about picking cotton that Blair said she did post, Randolph said, “The difference between white people picking cotton and Black people picking cotton is white people were free to go home, and Black people were not.”
The posted meme about Black violence was disturbing, Randolph said.
“Why would you ever say that unless you were poking fun at or belittling Black Lives Matter?” Randolph said. “... Black lives have to matter in this country, just like any other lives.”
Of the posts, Randolph said, “I was just floored, because of the importance of the position she holds. Can she really identify with everyone? Can we entrust that she’s going to be fair and compassionate in how she relates to people.”
Later, Randolph said, “I do think the hospice board needs to look into it, because she is the leader … I don’t believe in just firing people, but they should look into it.”
Randolph said she would also discuss the posts with the NAACP executive board.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse