• High school rock painting honoring MLK stirs up controversy

    By: Mark Becker

    Updated:

    ALBEMARLE, N.C. - This mural on a high school rock was designed to pay tribute to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ahead of his birthday, but it brought backlash on social media.

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    Albemarle High School students Kristyn McLendon and Taniqua Knight never claimed to be great artists but when they asked to paint the rock they never expected it to end in controversy.

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    School officials inevitably covered their artwork up after complaints.

    The 16-year-old students had to use black paint to paint King’s face instead of brown, which depicted the activist in a less-than-flattering way.

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    McLendon and Knight never expected it to end in controversy.

    “We did a stencil and we cut it out, but we didn't have (any) brown paint; but we didn't think it was going to be such an issue like it is right now,” McLendon said.

    “They just blew it out of proportion, really,” Knight said.

    “It was never meant to be racist,” McLendon said.

    Stanly County Schools Superintendent Jeff James said he's convinced the girls didn't intend to offend anyone. Officials decided to replace King's face with a heart in light of the dispute.

    McLendon and Knight are OK with that they maybe a little wiser after a life lesson outside the classroom.

    “A woman should always go with her first instincts, so when I knew I shouldn't have done it, I shouldn't have done it,” Knight said.

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