Racial Epithet Was Once Name of Perry’s Hunting Camp


A highly offensive racial epithet was once the name of a Texas hunting camp leased in the past by Gov. Rick Perry’s family and a place where the GOP presidential candidate has hosted friends and lawmakers. The racial slur, “N—–head,” was painted on a rock at one of the gates of the property and, while Perry’s office insists that his father painted over the word in the 1980s, photos taken as recently as last summer and seen by the Washington Post show that

… [the rock] was to the left of the gate. It was laid down flat. The exposed face was brushed clean of dirt. White paint, dried drippings visible, covered a word across the surface. An N and two G’s were faintly visible.

The hunting camp is in Throckmorton County in west Texas, which Perry has frequently referred to as where he grew up. Perry and his father, Ray Perry, began hunting at the camp in the 1980s.

Perry’s office has “complained” that the the Washington Post‘s story makes “incorrect, inconsistent” claims.

When asked last week about the rock, Perry said that the word painted on the rock is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.” But his accounts about when and how he dealt with the name of the hunting spot have actually varied and offer a sense of the other world that Perry grew up in, a segregated era in which blacks made up only a small fraction of the local population.

In his responses to two rounds of detailed, written questions, Perry said his father first leased the property in 1983. Rick Perry said he added his own name to the lease from 1997 to 1998, when he was state agriculture commissioner, and again from 2004 to 2007, when he was governor.

He offered a simple version of how he dealt with the rock, followed by a more elaborate one.

“When my Dad joined the lease in 1983, he took the first opportunity he had to paint over the offensive word on the rock during the 4th of July holiday,” Perry said in his initial response. “It is my understanding that the rock was eventually turned over to further obscure what was originally written on it.”

Perry said that he was not with his father when he painted over the name but that he “agreed with” the decision.

In response to follow-up questions, Perry gave a more detailed account.

“My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984,” Perry wrote. “This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word. After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit.”

“Ever since, any time I ever saw the rock it was painted over,” Perry said.

In the not too distant past, such racially offensive names could be found throughout the US. Civil rights groups and government agencies have worked to have such offensive names changed: Back in 1962, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names indeed substituted “Negro” for more than a hundred names like that of Perry’s hunting spot. Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady, worked to change the racially offensive name of a mountain in Burnet, Texas; the mountain’s name became “Colored Mountain” in 1968. The Texas NAACP started lobbying the state legislature to change many more such names in 1989, though it has met “resistance from private landowners.”

For years, says the Washington Post, Throckmorton County was “considered a virtual no-go zone for blacks because of old stories about the lynching of a black man there, locals said.” In 1950, the Census listed only one black resident out of a population of about 3,600. There were four black residents in 1960; two in 1970; none in 1980. The 2010 Census shows the county to have 11 black residents.

Mae Lou Yeldell, who is black and has lived in Haskell County for 70 years, recalled a gas station refusing to sell her father fuel when he drove the family through Throckmorton in the 1950s. She said it was not uncommon in the 1950s and ’60s for whites to greet blacks with, “Morning, n—–!”

“I heard that so much it’s like a broken record,” said Yeldell, who had never heard of the hunting spot by the river.

In responding to questions from the Washington Post, Perry said that, where he grew up “in the country,” there just weren’t “many people at all. … To some extent college, and to a great extent the Air Force, expanded my worldview. I traveled all over the world — Asia, Europe, Northern Africa — and witnessed the diversity of other peoples and societies.” Noting that he judges “folks by their character and ethics,” Perry emphasized his appointment of Texas’ first African-American Supreme Court Justice, who later was appointed to Chief Justice, and the first Latina Secretary of State.

On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain said of the name of Perry’s hunting spot “that’s just very insensitive”:

“[There is not] a more vile negative word than the N-word and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted it over is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

It’s also “just plain insensitive” to a lot of people in this country, period.


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Photo by Gage Skidmore


Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

Andrew C.
7:35PM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Rick Perry = racist piece of @#$!

Republican Party = bunch of racist pieces of @#$!

Anyone with a brain = not surprised

Republicans = People who want to rape you, kill you, rape your corpse, make a goblet out of your skull, and use it to serve baby blood to their rich masters.

Democrats have made good on some of their promises, and continue to advocate for the middle/poor classes.


Thank you Andrew!! You said it better than anybody on here! ;)

Yvette S.
Past Member 6 years ago

Perry is just a good ole boy and I am sure the removal of the name was politically driven as he was holding office at the time.
Acceptance until that point is the point.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

Eleven years ago Lt. Gov. Perry was an opponent of the NAACP when they launch a campaign to remove the Confederate battle flag from statehouses in Texas. This fall Texas will decides whether to allow specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag, Perry supports them.
Perry wrote the Sons of Confederate Veterans in March 2000 that, "although this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property. So did GWB until he ran for President and knew he couldn't get elected without reversing himself. Perry issued a "Message from the Governor" honoring Confederate Brigadier General Lawrence Ross, two-time Texas governor and president of A&M University, calling him "one of the greats on whose shoulders our modern day Texas rests”, despite accusations that Ross was behind the murder of black prisoners of the war in Mississippi. One added note, Perry's great-great grandfather David H. Hamilton fought at Gettysburg with the First Texas Infantry.
People like Perry have been taught to hate from one generation to the next and they are racist, bigots and southerners who’d would love nothing better than to see the old south rise again. I hope it is true what I have read and the reason given for GWB reversing himself regarding Confederate support; that is, confederate support plays well below the Mason-Dixon Line, but not in the rest of the United States.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Perry=Palin with a dick.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

I'm just as sick of this man's face and words as I was of Sarah Palins. Can't we find anything else to talk about?

Ellen Mccabe
Ellen m6 years ago

I hope this is one of the final nails in the coffin of his campaign..racist SOB!

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

No surprise. Perry is Perry and the GOP/tea-party monster is what it is and always has been. Thanks Kristina.

Denise L.
Denise L6 years ago

I can't believe some people are saying this is a non-issue or it could mean something else like referring to a fiddlehead fern

I think any decent person would see the name and immediately destroy it no matter what it's origin might have been. I certainly could not spend any time at a place with a name like that

Melissa D.
Melissa Dittmer6 years ago

Perry is an good 'ol southern boy. What else do we expect from him? Regardless of the derivation the word comes from, anyone from the South knows what the connotation is. This kind of repugnance is one more on the mile-high stack of reasons to vote FOR someone else (Obama).

Andrew Carvin
Andrew Carvin6 years ago

Any decent person would have taken a hammer to that rock, and smashed it to bits.

I know I wold have.