College Apologizes for Racial Epithet in Obama Cartoon

Montclair State University received scores of complaints

The student newspaper at Montclair State University has apologized for publishing a comic strip that referred to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama with a racial slur.

"Many of you have voiced your displeasure with this cartoon, as is your right," Bobby Melok, editor-in-chief of The Montclarian, wrote in a statement published on the newspaper's Web site and also sent via e-mail to all students and staff. "It is never The Montclarion's intention to offend its readership, and we sincerely apologize to all who were upset with this comic."

Melok told The Star-Ledger of Newark that the newspaper got the strip -- "The K Chronicles," penned by syndicated cartoonist Keith Knight, who is black -- through MCT Campus, a syndicate that provides content for colleges across the country. Melok said a production editor placed it on the comics page without raising a flag.

"We assumed because it was part of the syndicate, it was appropriate," Melok said. "We didn't take the care that we should have. It was a mistake. From now on, we're going to be more aware of what we put in the newspaper from outside and what we do ourselves."

The strip, which was published in last Thursday's editions, was entitled "Stories from the campaign trail." It depicts an Obama campaign volunteer who goes door to door in an area where "no Democrat has gone before." When the volunteer asks a woman her choice for president, the resident identifies her candidate with a racial epithet.

Since the strip was published, dozens of angry students have complained to campus officials and editors of the newspaper, which has a circulation of about 4,000.

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