‘Racist’ poster causing controversy at Mansfield candy store

MANSFIELD, MASS. (WHDH) - A 19th-century poster hanging inside a Mansfield candy store is causing a stir among residents who say it’s racist and want it taken down.

Hundreds of people have signed an online petition calling for the removal of a Bull Durham tobacco poster inside the Old Country Store that depicts three generations of black characters with enlarged lips. The tobacco, which was made in North Carolina, was popular after the Civil War.

“It’s clearly racist,” said Mansfield resident Whitney Steinberg. “I think it’s hurting people, so it should come down.”

Ronald Green agreed, saying, “What they have on their poster down there is derogatory.”

Resident Nicole Burch was so offended by the poster, she said she confronted store owner Chris Baker

“What I said was, ‘Can we talk about the racist poster hanging up?'” she recalled. “He said, ‘there’s nothing racist about it,’ and I started to walk away. We tried exchanging some more words, but it didn’t go anywhere.”

Burch decided to take the dispute public, posting the image on Facebook. An online petition calling for the poster to be removed and for Baker to apologize has since been signed by nearly 400 people.

But not everyone is offended by the poster.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” one woman said. “They make everything out to be about racism.”

Baker declined to do an interview but told 7News the poster has been on the wall for at least 60 years and is part of the history of the store.

“I’m here to shop today,” one man said. “I probably won’t buy that sign — but I’ll walk by it and think nothing of it.”

Baker, who says he has no plans to take down the poster, says he hopes people continue coming by his store to buy fudge and gifts.

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