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Adirondack couple says they received drive-by racist comment

TUPPER LAKE — Jack Valentine said his hearing isn’t the greatest, but he heard the laughter.

Driving a convertible around the park on a beautiful fall day Sept. 25, Valentine, who is white, and his wife, who is Black, were heading through the Junction neighborhood in Tupper Lake on their way to an early lunch at Raquette River Brewing.

Valentine is a resident of the Adirondacks but asked that his wife’s name and their hometown not be named.

Before they reached the brewery, they passed a group of men in their 20s and 30s, standing on the side of the road.

“Upon seeing us one of the men yelled unmistakably, ‘Hello Blacky’ followed by laughter of support from his companions,” Valentine wrote in an email. “We did not interpret this as a friendly greeting.”

They did not stop in town and decided to have lunch elsewhere.

“You don’t forget events like that,” Valentine said.

He said his initial response was anger.

“It probably upset me more than her,” Valentine said. “She’s experienced racism, really her whole life.”

The two are in their 70s and have been together for around 30 years, living 25 of those years in the Adirondacks.

Valentine said he was not planning to share this experience until last week when he read about the Tupper Lake town board not seconding, discussing or voting upon an anti-racism resolution drafted by Councilman John Quinn, which asked people not to publicly display Confederate flags.

“When I read that article, I mean, I was really steamed,” Valentine said in a phone interview. “Oh, you don’t think you have a problem? I think you do.”

He said the “inaction” of the board “burned” him.

He said the Confederate flag is extremely offensive to millions of people in America.

“It appears that the (leaders) of Tupper Lake would prefer to leave it alone and let it go away on its own. It does not,” Valentine wrote.

“The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of that (slavery) era, but it goes beyond that because it was maintained as a symbol after the Civil War,” Valentine said.

He said he believes that not caring about offending Black people with the flag is racist.

Valentine said he is part of a local anti-racism group. He said the group was formed after a resolution was passed in an Adirondack town condemning racism. He said he does not believe resolutions are effective in the first place and that the group is hoping to follow through on its promises.

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