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Posted under: Race & Identity News

Dr. Bernice King Explains Why She Doesn't Believe 'Martin Luther Coon Park' Meteorologist Should Have Been Fired

A slip of the tongue?

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Update (January 11, 2019): Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., wants to give New York meteorologist Jeremy Kappell a second chance. 

In a Thursday interview with TMZ, the Atlanta minister argued unless racial slurs like this are a constant occurrence, people should be given an opportunity to redeem themselves.

“I believe that when these racial slurs occur, unless there’s a situation where it’s continual, people need an opportunity to be rehabilitated. We don’t focus a lot on rehabilitation in our society today, and part of it is yes, there have to be some repercussions,” King said.

As Blavity previously reported, during Kappell’s segment about a park in Rochester, New York, the weatherman said “Dr. Luther Coon King Jr. Park” instead of “Dr. Luther King Jr. Park” while on-air. He was quickly fired. 

King believes Kappell shouldn't have been immediately terminated. Rather, he should undergo training and later be reevaluated based on his rehabilitation level.

“I don’t think it should go as far in this particular instance as firing an individual,” the 55-year-old said. “I think demoting, giving them another assignment off air, sending them through training, some implicit bias training, reevaluating to see where they are is a better solution in this particular instance.”

Fellow NBC weather forecaster and journalist Al Roker also argued Kappell should be given another chance to redeem himself in a tweet on Wednesday.

“I think Jeremy Kappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize on News10NBC. Anyone who has done live TV and screwed up [Google any number of ones I’ve done] understands,” Roker wrote.

The interview continued with King noting that firing people like Kappell fails to address the root of the problem.

“But a broad sweep every time someone says a racial slur, let’s just fire them. All we are doing is moving people around on the board because they’ll leave there, go to another place and potentially do the same thing,” she said.

The former anchor has since apologized for the mishap, stating he spoke too fast when speaking the historical civil rights leader’s name.

“At the end of the day, I can’t question someone's intent when they apologize,” King concluded. “He’s going to have to take some actions to show that he has made some effort at trying to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Original: A New York meteorologist was terminated days after he used a racial slur during a broadcast.

Former News10NBC meteorologist Jeremy Kappell said "Dr. Luther Coon King Jr. Park” on Friday during a segment about a park in Rochester, New York, reports 13WHAM.

Outraged viewers demanded Kappell’s firing soon after the moment hit the air. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was one of those critics.

“The individual responsible for the slur should no longer be employed at Channel 10,” she said in a statement.

“But, there is a larger issue here. An issue that is exemplified by the response of management at Channel 10. It took the station nearly two days to apologize, and only after the station was shamed into doing so by a backlash on social media.”

Richard McCollough, journalist and president of Rochester Association of Black Journalists, also weighed in.

"What he said was offensive to people of color and, really, everyone, because Dr. King was a hero. And to say 'coon' in association with his name is deplorable and unacceptable," McCollough said.

They got their wish. News10NBC Vice President and General Manager Richard Reingold confirmed Kappell's termination on Monday.

“As a result of that broadcast, meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC,” Reingold said in a statement. “We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard. We are proud of our dedicated newsroom professionals and expect and require that each respects and understands that their behavior reflects directly on the station for which they work and the community we serve.”

Following his firing, Kappell went live on Facebook to explain himself, according to Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.  

“What happened on Friday, to me, it’s a simple misunderstanding,” he said. “If you watch me regularly, you know I tend to contain a lot of information in my weathercast, which forces me to speak fast. Unfortunately, I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So fast to the point where I jumbled a couple of little words. In my mind, I knew I mispronounced, but there was no malice nothing that I could’ve … I had no idea the way it came across to many people.”

He also expressed disappointment in his former employers.

“With that being said I’m so disappointed that my career could end this way and extremely disappointed at the decisions at my television station whom I expected a certain level of support from which I did not receive at all,” Kappell continued. “And so here we are looking at what we’re going to do next. I can’t speak to their intent, I can only speak to mine. In no way, and if you know me I don’t even have to say it, I would never intend to harm that way to anyone.”


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