DALLAS – Authorities at Tarleton State University said they plan to investigate a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party that mocked black stereotypes by featuring fried chicken, malt liquor and faux gang apparel.
"I feel like there is no excuse for this type of ignorance," said Donald Ray Elder, president of the Stephenville school's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Photographs posted on social networking Web site Facebook.com showed partygoers wearing Afro wigs and fake gold and silver teeth. One photo showed students "mocking how African-Americans do step shows," Elder said. In another picture, a student is dressed as Aunt Jemima and carries a gun.
"That upsets me," Elder said. "That's someone who knows nothing about Dr. King, because Dr. King was totally about nonviolence."
Wanda Mercer, the school's vice president of student life, said an investigation was planned into the Jan. 15 party.
More than 400 students attended a university-sponsored forum Wednesday night that Elder described as "a shaky baby step" in bridging a divide between black and white students on the campus, which had about 400 black students out of 7,800 overall last semester.
Elder said he sensed a racial divide at the forum, with black students sitting on one side of the room and whites on the other.
"It was civil, but it also escalated into a shouting match," he said in a telephone interview afterward.
Some of the students shown in the photos apologized, Elder said.
University President Dennis P. McCabe said the photographs were reprehensible.
"I am personally insulted by these photographs and am disappointed that Tarleton students have demonstrated such insensitivity," he said.
Stephenville is about 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth.