Black Santa came to the town of South Little Rock, Arkansas all thanks to one homeowner who was racially targeted last Christmas.
One year ago, Chris Kennedy received a letter from a racist neighbor who took issue with the eight-foot-tall Black Santa he had displayed in his front yard, KFOR reports. In the letter, the neighbor told Kennedy that he was “jealous of my race,” and suggested he remove the holiday display and “move to a neighborhood out east” with the rest of his “kind.”
But this year, Kennedy decided to top his 2020 Christmas display by walking around his town dressed as Black Santa. He has even received encouragement from other neighbors and supporters telling him to continue on with his Christmas decorations and don’t let racism stop him.
“One of them sent me an inflatable nativity scene where Jesus, Mary and Joseph are all brown,” he said.
While Kennedy opted out of putting up the Black Santa display this year, it’s not because of his racist neighbor. He credits his daughter with deciding when their Black Santa display will go up, Fox59 reports.
“The display is always about my daughter and what she wants,” Kennedy said. “She wants to decorate right now and we haven’t done it yet just because of time, circumstances with work, and honestly a bit of the backlash from last year…”
Kennedy has always been a big fan of Christmas after “growing up and my dad decorating houses back in East Texas,” he said. His love for the holiday inspired him to become a Santa himself after being invited to the Santa Camp with New England’s Santa Society.
“It was just great to meet,” he said. “Four-hundred-plus years of Santa experience, and [to] be encouraged by that group of men.”
The city of North Little Rock also invited Kennedy to be Santa for their annual Northern Lights Festival.
“I know there are little kids out there that look like me, that will get to see a Santa that looks like them and that’s what brings me the most joy,” he said.
“My daughter is super excited. She is excited to become my elf.”