#MegynKelly #BCHS #HallOfFame #DiegoCagara #SpotlightNews
BETHLEHEM — The Bethlehem Central High School’s Hall of Fame committee voted unanimously back on Wednesday, Oct. 31 to keep alumna and journalist Megyn Kelly’s place intact for now, after hearing multiple requests from locals who wanted her removed.
The requests were in response to comments she made during the Oct. 23 episode of her show, “Megyn Kelly Today,” where she discussed whether blackface was appropriate for Halloween costumes. It was also part of a panel discussion which did not feature any African-American individuals.
“Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she said during the discussion. “When I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as a character.”
Her comments were criticized by the public soon afterwards. While Kelly apologized publicly the next day, NBC confirmed the cancelation of her show on Oct. 26, just three days after her initial commentary.
Kelly, who graduated from Bethlehem Central High School in 1988 and earned a Juris Doctor at Albany Law School in 1995, has become one of the country’s most visible broadcast journalists, particularly in political coverage. She worked as a news anchor at Fox News from 2004 to 2017 and hosted her own aforementioned talk show on NBC News from late 2017 to October this year. She was inducted into the high school’s Hall of Fame on Sept. 26, 2015.
Kelly was also criticized in an opinion piece written by 25 BCHS students called “Megyn Kelly Went to Our High School and, No, Blackface wasn’t ‘OK’ Here When She Was a Kid” on Oct. 28, 2018, which was posted on NBC News’ website. They reiterated that her comments “definitely do not speak to who we are in Bethlehem or at Bethlehem Central High School,” and that blackface is wrong both locally and nationally.
The students, collectively called “Students for Peace and Survival at Bethlehem Central High School,” also brought up how their own parents who grew up in Bethlehem did not accept blackface during the 1980s, the time period that Kelly was referring to. They believed that Kelly’s apology was not enough to fully confront her comments’ racial nature and the still-present discrimination that many Americans face nationwide today.
JoEllen Gardner of the school district’s communications office released a press statement on Monday, Nov. 5, from Superintendent Judy Monroe on behalf of the Hall of Fame committee, which consists of six staff members including alumni, teachers, administrators and support staff.
The committee realized that it lacks “a formal process for removing a member of the Hall of Fame and all members agreed that it would be in the school’s best interests to develop standard criteria and protocol that can be considered when such a request is made.”
The committee is expected to craft an official procedure which would be used for any future requests to have any Hall of Fame inductee removed. Like Kelly’s case, future removal requests would generally relate to an inductee’s questionable actions or behaviors since being inducted.
The committee, which generally meets two or three times a year, held a special meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 31, to discuss and vote on Kelly’s case. Its members are also planning to revisit the removal request once the aforementioned procedure is readied.
“The requests to remove Ms. Kelly will be reconsidered and another vote will be undertaken by the committee using a standard methodology that would be fair and equitable to any of our Alumni Hall of Fame members,” the press statement noted.
Spotlight News had reached out in hopes of speaking with the committee members on their vote, but the school district declined, only offering the press statement.
However, the committee has revealed that it would be looking over its Hall of Fame induction process and “fine-tuning its application, vetting, and selection process as a way to better formalize the review of nominations and ensure the integrity of the committee process.”
According to the high school’s website, a Hall of Fame inductee has to be a graduate “of at least 10 years who embodies the knowledge, character, and values of [Bethlehem Central] and attained distinguished achievements in their professional or personal lives.” Each inductee has a plaque displayed in the high school’s main entrance.
Examples of other inductees include Bethlehem Town Justice Ryan T. Donovan, 1950s-era leading actress Eva Marie Saint, and acclaimed photographer Mark Klett.
For more information about BC’s Hall of Fame and the online nomination form, visit www.bethlehemschools.org/alumni.