Festival in Louisiana Apologizes for Trying to Sell ‘Black Pickaninny’ Poster

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A meeting between Strawberry Festival officials, Kiwanis Club members and NAACP members ended with a public apology Wednesday for a poster that some found insulting and an agreement to not sell the poster at the festival.

“The Strawberry Board didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, get anybody insulted whatsoever. Neither did Kiwanis or the city, and we’re going to stand behind each other on this and we apologize if we hurt feelings,” said festival chairman Donald Lanier.

At a press conference following the meeting, after the apology, several agreements were announced. First, the board of the Strawberry Festival and Kiwanis Club said they would make an effort to have a more diverse membership. Also, the poster that caused a stir would not be sold at the festival.

The NAACP has asked for an apology from the artist, Kalle’ Siekkinen, for remarks he said in interviews. Leaders claim that Siekkinen said black people should be honored that they are the subject of his artwork.

The poster depicts two very dark, faceless black children with large, bright red lips in a style reminiscent of Jim Crow-era advertisements that featured “pickaninny” caricatures.

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Source: USA Today | Ashley Rodrigue, WWL-TV, New Orleans

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