The Boston Police Department tweeted a tribute for Black History Month on Sunday ¡ª honoring a white man.


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The department posted a photo of a statue of former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach that said, ¡°In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth, we pay tribute to @celtics legend #RedAuerbach for being the 1st@NBA coach to draft a black player in 1950, field an All African-American starting five in 1964 and hire the league¡¯s 1st African-American head coach (Bill Russell) in 1966.¡±

Auerbach, the legendary coach of the Boston Celtics from 1950 to 1966, was the first NBA coach to draft a black player, Chuck Cooper. Later, as president of the team,?he named?Russell as the first black coach?in any professional sports league. (See the 2006 obituary?by?The Post¡¯s Matt Schudel, written after Auerbach died at age 89.)

The backlash to the police department¡¯s tweet was immediate, with?some Twitter users?saying?that the tweet was tone-deaf and that the department could have chosen a person of color?¡ª Bill Russell, for example ¡ª to honor instead.

Others on Twitter didn¡¯t think the tweet was so bad.

One user wrote, ¡°i might be weird but shouldn¡¯t we honor all people that helped and were apart of equality?¡±

¡°Optics are bad but Red opened a lot of doors in an era where few would. That is worthy of recognition, though perhaps #BlackHistoryMonth a poor choice. But was Boston PD recognizing ONLY him? Seems doubtful,¡± another user wrote.

The department deleted the tweet about an hour later and issued an apology on its?Twitter account.

The department later tweeted a photo of Russell, whom it had honored on Feb. 3 for Black History Month.

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