Brian Henry, the founder of Palmetto Cheese, is under fire after claiming that Black Lives Matter is a “terror organization.”
The South Carolina resident made the statement on August 25 in a now-deleted Facebook post, Penn Live reported, writing:
2 innocent people murdered. Not 2 thugs or people wanted on multiple warrants. 2 white people defenselessly gunned down by a black man,” Henry wrote in the Facebook post, according to USA Today. “So why do we stand by and allow BLM to lawlessly destroy great American cities and threaten their citizens on a daily basis … This BLM and Antifa movement must be treated like the terror organizations they are.
As screenshots of his post began to make the rounds on social media, many called for the boycott of his brand, the outlet continued. Costco has since removed Palmetto Cheese from its shelves.
Henry told the Georgetown Times that Costco typically cycles through its products at this time of the year as “a matter of normal business,” and was optimistic that his product would be back soon.
“We remain optimistic that Palmetto Cheese will be back on the shelves in the not-too-distant future,” he expressed.
Here’s what you need to know about Brian Henry:
1. Henry is the Mayor of Pawleys Island, South Carolina
In November 2019, Henry was sworn in as the mayor of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, according to the Georgetown Times.
He told the outlet:
I ran for Mayor, not because I needed something else to do. That was the last thing on my mind. Not only was it a difficult decision to run, I then had to fight to keep my candidacy and voting rights intact. Why? Because I had a strong feeling that we needed new leadership, positivity, and energy. I also felt like the island was too important to risk the possibility of fundamental changes, because that prospect was becoming too real during the last year. And lastly, Pawleys Island has given my family a great deal over the years, and serving as mayor provided me the opportunity to give back.
While some have since called for his resignation in the midst of his BLM comments, he assured during a recent press conference that he is staying put.
“I can’t allow this to not go in a positive direction,” Henry said, adding, “I’m changing and I’m listening. … I made one comment that was emotionally driven. So I think the community at large knows me better than that.”
2. Henry Founded Palmetto Cheese With his Wife
Henry founded Palmetto Cheese with his wife Sassy after moving to Pawleys Island in 2002, according to the company’s website.
“The recipe originated with Sassy Henry. She would whip up batches of her delightful, southern style pimento cheese while living in Atlanta and tailgating at Braves games,” the Palmetto Cheese website states.
“Sassy, her husband Brian, and their two children moved to Pawleys Island, SC in 2002 where they took over the historic Sea View Inn.”
The cheese first hit the local markets in Pawleys Island and Georgetown in 2006, the website continues. The brand now exists in over 9,100 grocery stores and 44 states.
3. Palmetto Cheese is Rebranding to Remove the Image of a Black Cook Who Popularized the Product
Palmetto Cheese is in the process of rebranding its product to remove the image of Vertrella Brown, “a Black cook who popularized the product in Pawleys Island, from the packaging,” Myrtle Beach Online reported.
The company announced on its website:
We would like to announce new changes to the graphics on all our Palmetto Cheese varieties. New labels will be the initial update to the packaging and should be on the grocery shelves by the end of October.
Our past label held the image of our dear friend and long-time cook, Vertrella Brown. Raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and a cook for more than 40 years, she specialized in Gullah and Low Country Cuisine. She personified the soulful flavor that is embodied in Sassy Henry’s unique, southern recipe of pimento cheese. Vertrella sadly passed away in April 2020.
We understand action is necessary to embrace change within our organization and we are committed to making an impact internally and within the community.
4. Henry Vowed to Create a Foundation in Brown’s Memory
If you’d like your Costco location to bring in Palmetto Cheese, make sure to tell them what you think!! Fill out a card at the Member Feedback area found at the front of the warehouse. #pimentocheese #palmettocheese #costco pic.twitter.com/0jCivb8UZc
— Palmetto Cheese (@palmettocheese) July 10, 2020
Henry recently announced plans to create a foundation in Brown’s memory, according to Live 5 News.
He told the outlet that the effort will seek to “improve race relations through community events and by providing scholarship opportunities for young people in the community, offering grants to help other aspiring entrepreneurs get their products on grocery store shelves and assisting local food bank programs.”
The founder also apologized for his actions during a recent press conference, stating:
I start out by saying I am profoundly sorry to those I offended with my post last week. My comments were hurtful and insensitive. I spent the past 10 days listening and learning. The conversations I’ve had with friends, our staff, the community and faith-based leaders provided me with a deeper understanding of racial inequality and the importance of diversity sensitivity, which is very much needed to heal Pawleys Island, Georgetown and our country.
5. Henry Hails From Atlanta
Brian and Sassy Henry moved from Atlanta to Pawleys Island in 2002 with their two daughters, May and Camille, according to the Palmetto Cheese website. The couple moved to take over as Innkeepers of the “iconic” Sea View Inn, the website continues.
“They also opened Get Carried Away, a takeout restaurant featuring some of the mouth-watering food served to guests of the Sea View Inn and eventually expanded the business to include catering,” the organization states.
“The couple also partnered with artist, Susan Albright, to create Happy Places, a design company featuring unique, colorful art incorporated into home and clothing items.”