Photo of Gardendale teens in blackface ignites social media firestorm

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GARDENDALE, Ala. (WIAT) — A viral photo is raising questions about racial insensitivity at a Jefferson County school.

The photo, which was originally uploaded to Instagram with the caption, “Black lives matter,” shows two girls made up in black face. Those girls are students at Gardendale High School.

The account that uploaded the photo, reportedly belonging to one of the girls, has been deleted, but screenshots of the original post have been shared on various social media platforms across the country along with comments of outrage.

Wednesday afternoon, activists with the Outcast Voters League made a call for action outside of Gardendale High.

“These students are old enough to know right from wrong,” said activist Carlos Chaverst. “They’re old enough to know the issues that this country is facing in a racist environment.”

“It’s just as wrong as bullying. It’s just as wrong as discrimination. All that is in the same pot of evil,” said activist Frank Matthews.

Matthews and Chaverst suggested that the parents of the girls in the photo go through sensitivity training. They also called for the ouster of Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Craig Pouncey.

Pouncey would not comment on the issue.

Mary Beth Blankenship, the principal of Gardendale High, told CBS42 in an email that the school was investigating the incident.

“I work for all students, regardless of race, to help them graduate prepared and to be a success as an adult,” Blankenship wrote. “Our mission states that we are committed to creating an environment where learning is a priority for all. This is an unfortunate event that has impacted many people. I am disappointed that this has happened.”

CBS42 reached out to one of the girls identified in the photo via social media, but the account was deleted minutes later.

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