SACRAMENTO – Colusa County officials are defending their display at the California State Fair after a black couple complained that a caricature of a smiling watermelon seed was racist.
The "Waldo Watermelon Seed" drawing was removed this week after the couple said the image evoked negative stereotypes about blacks.
The exhibit was intended to celebrate Colusa County's seed-producing crops, which generate $30 million a year.
Margaret Kemp-Williams, deputy counsel for Colusa County, says it was drawn by wards at a county juvenile hall where the population is roughly 40 percent black and 40 percent Hispanic.
The wards created a display honoring watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and tomato seeds. Kemp-Williams says each seed was depicted true to its real color.
Veronica Hannon Thrasher and her husband objected to the "Waldo Watermelon" caricature, which they said looked like "a happy black slave eating watermelon."
The county attorney said the wards had wrongly been cast "under a cloud of unintended racism."
Colusa is a rural county northwest of the state capital.