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Police group hires blackface performer for fundraiser

ELIZABETH HEFFNER
Staff Writer

The Lincolnton-Lincoln County Fraternal Order of Police is facing backlash after announcing they selected William P. Richardson, a white comedian known for his blackface routines, to perform at their 2014 Comedy Benefit Concert.
The Lincoln County NAACP branch first informed the Times-News and other local media outlets of the upcoming performance in an emailed press release Thursday morning.
“The Lincoln County local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is not amused by the Willie P. Richardson comedy event, which will be held Saturday, June 28, 2014,” Lincoln County NAACP Branch President Debra C. Williams wrote. “The Lincoln County NAACP finds this comedian offensive to the African American community since he is a Caucasian male portraying an African American.”
Williams said that she first learned of Richardson’s performance on the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Fraternal Order of Police’s Facebook page earlier last week.
According to Lincolnton Police lieutenant and Lincolnton-Lincoln County Fraternal Order of Police president Brian Greene, the Order was unaware of the NAACP’s press release until it was delivered to his place of work Friday morning.
“The only thing I can say officially is that we are a membership organization,” Greene said. “The membership voted to have this comedy concert, and the members are the only ones who can change that. The executive board can’t change it, I can’t change it, nor any other officer in the lodge can make this change. So, when we were only officially given the information Friday, it’s just not much time to react. We just have not had an opportunity to review it with the membership.”
When asked if Greene and other members were aware that Richardson was a white man performing comedy in blackface prior to hiring him for the benefit concert, Greene declined to comment.
“If Mr. Richardson is such a funny comedian, why does he have to paint his face black and belittle other minorities in the process?” Williams said. “We should not allow division to be among our community as we allow others to come in and belittle our ethnic groups.”
As of Friday afternoon, Williams said she had contacted Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the state’s NAACP chapter, to inform him of Richardson’s upcoming performance in Lincolnton.
According to Richardson’s website, he is a native of Nacogdoches, Texas. Growing up, Richardson was known for his prank phone calls to his friends, neighbors and relatives.
“We don’t try to make fun of people or demean anyone…we’re just having harmless fun with folks…most of the calls we make are set up by a friend or relative of the victim, and we have to call them back and ask them to sign a release so we may use their voices on their album,” Richardson said on his website. “We’ve not had anyone refuse to sign yet.”
Those interested in learning more about Willie P. Richardson should visit his official website at http://www.worldwidewillie.com/willie-home.htm. For more information about the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Fraternal Order of Police and the upcoming benefit concert, visit http://www.ncfop85.com/.

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