The controversy started in late May when Mike Adams, a sociology and criminology professor at University of North Carolina Wilmington, tweeted he dined with six men at a six-seat table and said he “felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina” before adding “Massa Cooper, let my people go!”
He was referring to the executive order limiting social gatherings signed by Gov. Roy Cooper during the coronavirus pandemic. A few days after his tweet, an online petition was started to get Adams fired from his job. The post, which called Adams “a thorn in the side” of the school has more than 57,000 signatures, and now, Hollywood has joined the effort.
Monday, after “Sleepy Hollow” actor and Wilmington resident, Orlando Jones, tweeted about Adams' comments, “One Tree Hill” star Sophia Bush called on fans of the show to take action in Wilmington, where the show was filmed during its nearly nine-year run. “This feels like another change for Wilmington that the #OTHfam could make some noise about,” she said on Twitter.
Bush’s co-star, Hilarie Burton Morgan, added she will be discouraging fans from attending the school “until Adams is removed.” Before the celebrities took part in the campaign for his removal, Adams told those writing to the school for his firing to also leave him their mailing address so he can send them “a box of panty liners.”
This is not the first time he has sparked controversy. In 2018, faculty members at the University of Montana opposed a visit by the Wilmington professor to their school, writing in a letter that Adams has “a long record of mocking, demeaning and verbally attacking women, people of color, members of the Islamic faith and the LGBTQ community,” The News & Observer reported.
He was also embroiled in a controversy in 2016 after posting an article about a student activist under the title “A ‘Queer Muslim’ Jihad,” the newspaper reported at the time. The university has released a statement calling the comments “vile” without naming Adams. “No matter how upsetting and distasteful the comments may be, they are expressions of free speech and protected by the First Amendment,” the statement said.