A librarian at an elementary school in Maryland has reportedly been reassigned after a video showing her admit to yelling a racial slur at a black man in a Walmart parking lot went viral on social media.
In the video, Dawn Tolson-Hightower, who posted the footage to Facebook under the name Dawn Nichelle Lennon, can be heard confronting the woman in the parking lot, asking her: “Did you just call my husband the N-word?”
“Yeah, I did,” the woman responds.
“In front of my children?” Tolson-Hightower says, as the woman starts to walk towards her, before the camera jerks away.
Speaking with NBC News 4 in an on-camera interview, Tolson-Hightower said the incident happened while she and her children were in the car with her husband outside the Walmart.
In her Facebook post, which had received more than 126,000 views as of Thursday morning, Tolson-Hightower says the librarian hurled the racist slur at her husband because “he didn’t move out the parking spot the way she wanted him to.”
“How dare she talk to my husband that way and in front of me and my children,” she wrote, adding that what was most “profound” was that when the Maryland mother confronted the librarian, “she was proud of it and didn’t try to deny it.”
In a later post, Tolson-Hightower asserts that the woman also tried to take her phone.
Tolson-Hightower also claimed that her house had been “burned down in 2004 by racist[s]. And now this!!! I’m so ashamed to live in a country that supports this type of hatred and bigotry,” she said.
Local news outlets, including NBC News 4, have identified the woman as a librarian at Potomac Landing Elementary School in Fort Washington.
When contacted by Newsweek, the school said it would not comment on the incident and directed questions to the Prince George County school board, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement to NBC News 4, Prince George’s County Public Schools said: “Diversity and tolerance are core values of the school system. We expect all members of the PGCPS community—administrators, faculty, staff and students—to behave in a respectful manner.”
The school board reportedly said the librarian has since been reassigned and will not be working inside the school as an investigation into the incident is carried out.
Tolson-Hightower told Fox 5 news that she struggled to discuss the incident with her teenage daughter and young son on the way home after the incident.
“I honestly was trying to find a way to explain to my 10-year-old where this comes from,” the mother said. “Watching my kids’ faces really hurt my heart. Watching my husband feel like, ‘Well, don’t worry about it, Dawn. This has happened to me before.'”