DECATUR, Ala. - Heath Morrow, a teacher in a Decatur elementary school, and his wife dressed as Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian for a private Halloween party. The picture made national news sparking a racial debate.
Tuesday a former elementary and junior high classmate of Morrow’s took to social media in defense of his childhood friend.
"This man didn't dress up like this to be racist or blackface like it's being said,” friend Walter Orr said in a video posted to Facebook. “He dressed up like this because this is what he and his wife wanted to be for Halloween. I see nothing wrong with that."
Orr recorded a video stating that Morrow’s intent wasn’t to be racist and that people are using this opportunity to make a big deal out of something while missing the big picture.
"Coming from a background of knowing this guy,” told Orr in the video, “Y'all put this man's whole life and family at risk by making him look like he's racist for choosing to be Kanye West, a man of color."
The video has been shared nationally and received more 18,000 views within the first 24 hours being posted. He brings up other social issues that he says need attention in the post. Issues like gun safety in schools, AIDS epidemic, teachers' roles in the classroom and more.
He even brings up his daughter to help drive his point home about the Halloween costume.
"If she wants to be Madonna for Halloween then I'm going to paint her up like Madonna,” Orr said. “If that's what she wants to be, I guess I'll be racist too."
The whole issue calling to question what are the standards and expectations for social media. And if there will be a lesson to be had from this social media burst and lives impacted.
"People need to wake up and realize what's really going on,” Orr said. “And it's going to take us as people to wake up and speak on these issues for things to change."
Monday, Decatur City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols held a news conference in which he read an apology letter from Morrow that stated, in part:
I would like to first apologize for my error in judgement, but my intentions were not malicious or directed toward any certain group of people.
The photo in question was posted to Morrow’s wife’s Facebook page. Though the photo has now been taken down, it initially spread from there to other social media platforms, including other news outlets.
Superintendent Nichols spoke about the matter Monday morning.
“We are saddened as a district by the action of a member of our staff that have offended members of our community, and most of all, have taken away from the focus of our children and the good things that are going on in our school district and with our children,” Nichols said.
It was later decided that no action would be taken against Morrow.
Friends have also posted a Support Heath Morrow Facebook page.