PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Civil rights groups and city officials are reacting after several mummers wore blackface during the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. The Froggy Carr Group was disqualified and some are questioning if that is even enough.
Some city officials are looking to see what legal avenues might exist to hold the individuals or their organization accountable.
The issue came up Wednesday during the Mummers Parade when several members of the James Froggy Carr Club walked the streets with their faces painted all black.
The club’s theme was Gritty and the Flyers, whose colors are orange and black, but the two men who spoke to Eyewitness News reporter Matt Petrillo made it clear they knew they were wearing blackface and not just sporting the Flyers’ colors.
“Cause I like it. Yeah, why not? I know it’s a shame to be white in Philly right now. It’s a shame,” Mike Tomaszwski said.
“It has nothing to do with being racist to the black person or the white person or the yellow person. It’s our tradition,” Kevin Kinkel said.
The Froggy Carr mummers were disqualified from their division and rebuked by the mayor’s office which oversees the Mummers Parade.
City Council President Darrell Clarke is conferring with the City Solicitor’s Office about additional punishment.
“We’ve been talking to individuals that represent us from the legal perspective. The fact that we do have to issue a permit gives us some leverage in terms of ensuring that this doesn’t happen again,” Clarke said.
While Froggy Carr wouldn’t speak, Jimmy, who did not want to give his name but says he’s a mummer, approached Eyewitness News on the street to give his perspective.
“There’s so many more things than to be bothering these guys who just want to have a good time. They didn’t mean anything by wearing their blackfaces, whatever. Painting black paint on their faces, I don’t think is that big of a deal,” he said. “Yeah, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Minister Rodney Muhammad from the NAACP says asking people not to wear blackface is really about mutual respect.
“Even if you’ve never loved me, one day, just showing respect for me and me showing respect for you, respect for my history and I show respect for yours, I think that’s not a lot to ask for in the 21st century from citizens,” Muhammad said.
The NAACP is also calling on the Philadelphia Flyers to denounce the mummers’ actions.