“In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance,” the Washington Post is reporting in a front-page article this morning.
‘“Ni***head,’ it read.
“Ranchers who once grazed cattle on the 1,070-acre parcel on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River called it by that name well before Perry and his father, Ray, began hunting there in the early 1980s. There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps.
“But the name of this particular parcel did not change for years after it became associated with Rick Perry, first as a private citizen, then as a state official and finally as Texas governor. Some locals still call it that. As recently as this summer, the slablike rock — lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint — remained by the gated entrance to the camp.
“When asked last week, Perry said the word on the rock is an ‘offensive name that has no place in the modern world.’
“But how, when or whether he dealt with it when he was using the property is less clear and adds a dimension to the emerging biography of Perry, who quickly moved into the top tier of Republican presidential candidates when he entered the race in August.”
“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.’
“Perry’s version of events differs in many respects from the recollections of seven people, interviewed by The Washington Post, who spoke in detail of their memories of seeing the rock with the name at various points during the years that Perry was associated with the property through his father, partners or his signature on a lease.
The rest of the article is here.