The president of Lipscomb University in Nashville issued an apology Friday after cotton stalk centerpieces at a dinner for black students at his home were considered racist.
University President Randy Lowry said he had invited black Lipscomb students to his home for a private dinner on Thursday to discuss their experiences on campus. Students subsequently shared pictures of cotton stalk centerpieces that decorated the tables and complained that the dinner menu contained so-called “black meals” like collard greens and cornbread.
A local NBC affiliate confirmed that the cotton centerpieces were only used on the night black students were hosted. On the evening prior, during a dinner for Latino students, Mr. Lowry’s spread included a fajita bar, NBC reported.
Mr. Lowry admitted that he made a misstep and apologized for the hurt he may have caused.
“Several students shared with me their concern about the material used for centerpieces which contained stalks of cotton,” he said in a statement Friday evening. “The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”
“I have heard from a number of students who would like to spend more time together engaging in conversation. I am most pleased to do so either in small groups or individually,” he added.