Asia Todd, a guard on Liberty University’s women’s basketball team, said she’s leaving the school and transferring because of what she considers to be a racially insensitive tweet that was sent by the school president.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. tweeted a photo last month of a person in blackface and another person dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member. Falwell sent the tweet to criticize Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s order for people to wear masks in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19, with Falwell calling Northam “Governor Blackface” In the tweet.
Todd announced that she was leaving the Virginia school in a Twitter video and said while she’s fond of her coaches and teammates, she just can’t stay after Falwell’s tweet.
“Please know that this decision was not taken lightly,” said Todd. “This decision had nothing to do with basketball or the program for this decision was simply bigger than basketball. … Due to the racial insensitivities shown within the leadership and culture, it simply does not align with my moral compass or personal convictions.”
The images of the person in blackface and the person in the Klan robes were pulled from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook, photos he apologized for when they resurfaced in 2019.
In a letter, Liberty University alumni, 35 Black pastors, and church leaders implored Falwell to apologize for the tweet, which he has.
“While your tweet may have been in jest about Virginia’s governor, it made light of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism,” the letter read.
In an interview with North Carolina’s ABC11, Todd said that she’s never had a problem with speaking up whenever she sees wrongdoing.
“I’m not scared to like speak out on things. I see or just speak on things that are wrong,” she explained. “We just need leaders to step up and definitely have the courage to speak out on things and not accept the status quo. … That was something that I don’t play about. Racism is not something I can condone.”
Todd’s mother, Latoya Todd, said the death of George Floyd affected her daughter’s decision to leave Liberty. Floyd, a Black man, was killed by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May during an arrest
“Everything just kind of collided at once,” said Latoya about her daughter. “The George Floyd situation and some of the comments from the president at Liberty, all of those things intertwined and kind of had a big impact on her deciding that this was definitely not the place that she needed to be.”
Todd played one season with Liberty University as a freshman and averaged 8.6 points. She started 25 of the teams’ 31 games.
“[I received] an incredible amount of love and support from people I don’t even know,” said Todd about the responses she got after making her announcement. “I really wish that I could go through every comment and reply to everyone and just show my love and gratitude that they’ve shown to me.”