FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A North Carolina school superintendent canceled a ceremony for an environmental program because the mascot for the effort was Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette, who owned slaves.

Cumberland County Superintendent Tim Kinlaw told local media he canceled the program because of sensitivity to issues concerning slavery.

Kinlaw said he got calls from some community members concerned that Lafayette would be offensive to some people in Fayetteville.

Lafayette was to be the mascot of a “Flip-Tap-Stack program to encourage school children to empty trash from their disposable cafeteria trays into trash cans and to stack the trays for disposal. Stacked trays take us less room in landfills.

The event was scheduled Wednesday, Kinlaw canceled it Tuesday afternoon.

Biographers say Lafayette was an abolitionist who bought slaves, intending to free them.

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