Photo by Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images
What's in a name...for your favored hunting camp? In the case of Texas Governor Rick Perry, it could be a bit of lingering racism.
Gov. Perry's campaign is pushing back against a story in the Washington Post today about his West Texas hunting camp where the governor has hosted lawmakers and friends, which for many years was called "Niggerhead."
The name, painted for many years on a large rock sitting at the entrance to the 1072-acre property, was reportedly used for the area near Clear Fork on the Brazos River which the Perry family has used for hunting since the early 1980s. But the painted rock, and the name of the area, remained long after Perry and his father began using the area for hunting trips with friends.
From the Post:
"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."
When asked about the camp’s name last week, Gov. Perry, replied that the word on the rock was an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.”
But the name of the camp, and the area — which for many years was reportedly unfriendly to African-Americans — has in recent days haunted Perry, who grew up in Texas during segregation and has often said that his younger years deeply informed his political conservatism.
When asked further about the rock and when it was painted over, the presidential candidate said first that his father painted over the rock in 1983, then gave a more detailed account, according to the Post:
“My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984. This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word. After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit.”
The governor’s campaign says the story was misleading however, according to Politico. A statement on his website reads:
“"A number of claims made in the story 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. The one consistent fact in the story is that the word on a rock was painted over and obscured many years ago.”