A Florida State University football team Twitter account sent out a Martin Luther King Jr. Day message on the social network Monday — but it quickly backfired and got deleted.
The Seminoles recruiting account, which is verified and has more than 30,000 Twitter followers, posted a photoshopped image of the civil rights icon with his hand in a football glove doing what appeared to be a “tomahawk chop” with an outstretched arm.
Hashtags after the tweet’s “Happy MLK day!” message said “#GoNoles,” “#DoSomething” and “#MLK2019.”
The post was quickly deleted, but it didn’t take long for Twitter users to question the judgment of whomever posted the message.
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Many said the Tallahassee university has a lot of explaining to do.
A spokesperson for the school said the school is “sorry for missing the mark in our attempt to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy” in a statement emailed to McClatchy.
“In a well-intentioned effort to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. on this special day, a member of our recruiting staff created a graphic using one of Dr. King’s quotes — ‘If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way,’” Derek Satterfield, a spokesperson for the football program, wrote in the email.
He said there was a reason the school decided to go with that quotation in particular.
“The quote resonated with our program’s Do Something mantra,” Satterfield explained. “However, in our attempt to more closely connect the message to FSU, we foolishly posted a graphic that was not in line with our intent.”
Many suggested it was odd to associate King — a leader who promoted social justice and decried racism — with actions like the “tomahawk chop” that critics say are racist and offensive.
But even after posting an apology on Twitter, not everyone was happy.
Meanwhile, Willie Taggart, head coach of the school’s football team, had a bit more success with his Twitter post about King. It was retweeted hundreds of times and liked thousands more.
The school’s basketball team posted about the civil rights leader without offending as well.