Rodney Axson Jr. has maintained the highest grade point average among the members of the football team 3.5, but has received racial threats by white teammates that has triggered investigations by the Brunswick Police Department and the Brunswick School District. (Axson Family Photo)
Three weeks after beginning his senior year at Brunswick High School, African American scholar athlete Rodney Axson Jr. has became the latest victim of racial threats by his white teammates, which has rocketing the predominantly Caucasian community into the heat of America’s racial divide.
Axson Jr. is a reserve quarterback for the varsity football team. He formally played junior varsity for powerful Glenville Academy before arriving with great potential at Brunswick.
After a junior campaign where he played sparingly as a back up quarterback at Brunswick, Axson displayed flashes of his potential but during his senior season has been a rather obscure member of the football team until Sept. 2nd.
That’s when Brunswick visited Austintown Fitch and while in the locker-room during pregame, Axson overheard his white teammates saying that they would call predominantly black Austintown Fitch team “N-ggers-“ every time they would line up.
“He was in the locker-room getting ready for a football game and there were a couple of players using the N-word that they were going to call the opposing players the N-word with a hard ‘R’ because the opposing team was African Americans,” Rodney Axson Sr. explained to the Call & Post.
“However they didn’t realize my son was in the lockeroom at that time, so he approached them and [asked] was like why are y’all saying that, that ain’t cool to say, and they said its not directed towards you because you play with us.”
His son them told his teammates, “it is directed towards me because I am African American and I was African American before I was a Brunswick Bluedevil.”
According to Axson Sr., his teammates brushed off his son’s concerns and went to the field for the start of the game and the national anthem.
It was during that time another player said the N-word, and Axson Jr. kneeled down in prayer along with two other black players.
Axson’s demonstration was not in protest of national racial injustice against blacks, although he is in agreement with the stance of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Following the game, which Brunswick lost 27-20, Axson Jr. began receiving text messages from his teammates on the school bus, castigating him as “ignorant”, “worthless N--ger.”
Approximately two days after that, Axson Jr. received a Snapchat message, which read “F-Rodney, F-Rodney, F- N--gers, let’s lynch the N--gers”
Axson Jr. responded to the hatful message, but he also sent it via Twitter to the superintendent of the school, the principal, the 12-grade principal and the athletic director.
The administrators launched an investigation that resulted into the suspension of a couple of players on the team, but the primary player responsible was not suspended and in fact was promoted to captain for the following game, according to Axson Sr.
“We are still investigating various incidents of inappropriate and racially motivated conduct by students at Brunswick High School. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement as well. As such, we will not comment further until such time as we have a reasonable grasp on all the facts."
Brunswick Schools are investigating, superintendent Michael Mayell, released the following statement:
"However, let me say that a statement which has circulated on social media connected with this investigation is reprehensible and I am deeply disappointed that any of our students would participate in its publication. Racial slurs and hate speech have no place in the Brunswick schools and those found complicit in such misconduct will be dealt with accordingly. This is a statement I have never even conceived that I might need to release. I am saddened to have to do so.”
The complaint has also been picked up the Brunswick Police Department department, which could result in hate crime charges being filed.
"I believe the police department is taking this very seriously," said NAACP chapter president Mike Nelson at a Monday press conference. "The officer who is in charge of investigating this matter, who is affiliated with the school, is really on top of the source of this information, these derogatory offensive statements as well as the possible ethical intimidation.”
Axson Jr. is a model student who was Magna Cum Laude in 2015 and maintains the highest grade point average on the football team with a 3.5 GPA and has aspirations of becoming a lawyer someday. His idol is the late civil rights attorney Johnny Cochran, who represented OJ Simpson in the Trial of the Century.
His father grew up in Cleveland on Superior Ave, and moved with his wife and two children about 8 years ago to Brunswick Ohio; population of 33,255 because he thought it was safe.
Axson Sr. says that he has not experienced anything remotely close to this situation.
He now fears for his family, especially his 7-year old daughter who attend schools in Brunswick.
“As far as the football I look at like this. My son is African American and he plays quarterback. He has not be given a fair chance to show that he can run this team,” Axson Sr. said. “To me it started with the coach. I’ve been bringing things to their attention such as I don’t feel that he’s been treated fair and for the past year I have been expressing that and I guess they didn’t take it serious and now this is what happens.
“Even with all that has been going on the head coach has not even reached out to us until lately.”
Brunswick is the largest city in Medina County with a population of 95 percent white and 1.2 percent black, according to the 2010 Census.
The high school which was rated as ‘Excellent’ by the state of Ohio, is the 8th largest in the state with any overwhelming population of whites near 97 percent and less than one percent black.,
Axson Sr. says that he is considering selling his house and moving from Brunswick, but insists that his son is not going to quit the football team.
“We are all hurt and disappointed by this, but he is going to remain on the football team and finish his season.”
Axson Jr. has a recruiting visit to Winston-Salem State University this weekend, which is considering offering him a scholarship to play football.
In the meantime, the family will fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation that ironically will be linked to national racial protest that range from NFL fields, to NBA courts, to baseball locker rooms and beyond.