GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry has come under fire for not quickly removing a racist sign outside the hunting camp in West Texas that his family leased for nearly 30 years.
The Washington Post reports that Perry entertained lawmakers, friends and supporters at the camp, whose offensive name – “Niggerhead”—was painted on a rock outside the property’s gates.
According to the Washington Post:
Ranchers who once grazed cattle on the 1,070-acre parcel on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River called it by that name well before Perry and his father, Ray, began hunting there in the early 1980s. There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps.
But the name of this particular parcel did not change for years after it became associated with Rick Perry, first as a private citizen, then as a state official and finally as Texas governor. Some locals still call it that. As recently as this summer, the slablike rock — lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint — remained by the gated entrance to the camp.
The Washington Post said seven people told the newspaper that the racial epithet was clearly visible on the rock throughout the 1980s and 1990s. One former ranch worker told the Washington Post that he believes he saw the name as recently as 2008.
GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain blasted Perry for his reported inaction on Fox News Sunday. There "isn't a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, until before, I hear, they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country," he said.
Perry's campaign communications director Ray Sullivan has charged that many of the article's claims are "incorrect, inconsistent and anonymous, including the implication that Rick Perry brought groups to the lease when the word on the rock was still visible,” Fox News reports. Sullivan also said the rock was painted over in the early 1980s, The Associated Press reports.