The African-American man who claims he was the one who started the tradition of the now infamous Martin Luther King “celebration” among Tarleton State University students now admits that this year’s party bears virtually no resemblance to the one he and two of his roommates hosted three years ago.
Tracy Williams, a 2006 graduate of TSU and friend to some of the white students who hosted the “MLK party” last week, stood up in front of students and faculty members Wednesday night at a forum to discuss race relations and took blame.
“If you want to blame anyone, blame me,” Williams told the group. “I was the one who started this party three years ago - and it was never intended to be racist.”
Williams said three years ago, he and his two roommates - one white and the other Hispanic - were “just sitting around the house” on Martin Luther King day three years ago when they decided to throw a party.
“I would say about 50 to 60 people showed up,” Williams said. “We had a cook out and had fun. It was no big deal.”
But Williams also admitted that that party was a different kind of bash than the one held recently. For starters, there were no buckets of fried chicken at the “original” MLK party. No 40-oz bottles of malt liquor in brown paper sacks. No afros. No toy guns and no baggy pants. Williams said he couldn’t recall anyone dressed as “Aunt Jemima” either.
“OK, well, I admit that this party was a little different than mine,” Williams said. “But I still don’t think it was racist.”
Williams also steadfastly defended his good friend and former roommate, Jeremy Pelz, who posted pictures of the party on his Facebook Web site. Despite the fact that many of the pictures showed white students poking fun at black culture and history, Williams insisted that those students who attended the party are not racist and meant no disrespect to the black community or to Martin Luther King.
“I know for sure that they (the party-goers) weren’t being racist,” Williams said. “They were just having fun.”
When asked if he agrees with how the African American students have responded to the situation, Williams said “yes and no.”
“I can see why the black students were offended by some of these pictures, but I think they have to keep it in perspective,” he said. “They didn’t mean any harm.”