Video of Union County teacher sparks concern, longer version shows full context

Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Video is circulating on social media showing a Union County teacher and coach saying the N-word.

But, the short video circulating isn’t the whole story. After hearing concerns from members of the community, WBTV wanted to get to the bottom of it.

The video online shows a teacher, who sources have identified as Weddington High School’s Powell Williams. In the video he’s heard saying the N-word in a three-second clip.

But WBTV obtained the longer version, which includes the entire conversation.

Weddington High School parents got a message from administrators Wednesday night about a “serious matter” involving a teacher.

The matter in question - a video of Coach Williams saying , “Can I say it? N- - - a.”

Williams appears to be speaking in a virtual class.

The entire conversation obtained by WBTV puts more context into what led up to the moment and words in question.

It starts with Williams stating he got a text from a number he didn’t recognize and was asking the class about it.

“I did not like the language that was phrased in this text and so I got a little upset, and so I was like, ‘what the heck?’ So…” Williams says on the video.

“What did it say?” someone else on the call asks.

“I don’t know if I can repeat it,” Williams responds.

“Ok,” the other person answers.

“Nah, I don’t – nah, I’m cool with it if we’re recording, I just – here it is… it said, ‘you??’ And I said, ‘who is this?’ and they go, ‘Me—’ Can I say it? ‘Me, n---a.’ Like, I got a huge problem with that,” Williams says in the video. “I’ve got a huge problem with that. And so, like, I said, um… ‘use that language with me again, we’re gonna have a problem.’”

The video ends with Williams instructing what appears to be students to move on and get back to taking notes.

**WARNING: The longer version of the video below is unedited and contains graphic language.**

A number of people sent WBTV the short clip, saying they were upset. Parents also made the school district aware.

Union County Public Schools sent WBTV the message the Weddington High School Principal sent parents on March 17. It reads:

“I am aware of the video that is circulating on social media involving one of our staff members. I am not at liberty to share any details about this situation, as the UCPS Human Resources Department is now involved. This is a very serious matter and this type of behavior will not be tolerated at Weddington High School.”

WBTV reached out to Weddington High School for Powell’s contact information and tried contacting him via email but we have not yet heard back.

We’re told by school officials that the teacher is now on leave while HR determines if he violated any policies.

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