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Submitted / The Outlook Jeff Hines, Stephanie Hardy, Scott Hardy, KK Hardy, Charlie Hardy, Kim Hines and Darby Hines consider themselves one big family and stand together against inequality and injustice.

Love sees no color and that love runs strong and deep within Alexander City natives Scott and KK Hardy. That love extends even further amongst their family members who strongly support, encourage and respect the couple’s interracial marriage.

With news and social media exploding with conversation and conflict surrounding George Floyd, the Hardy and Hines families decided to speak out as the issue of injustice for people of color hits close to home. 

Floyd was a black man who died when a Minneapolis police officer, who has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes constricting his airway.

“I’ve coached basketball for 25-plus years and the majority of kids have been African American or young men of color; I don’t know the correct term because I don’t get wrapped up in that,” KK’s father Jeff Hines said. “So something like this has hit home with me for a long time and I was disappointed in myself. I have not spoke out like I should have. But when KK married the man of her dreams who just happens to be a young black man, who is now my son, my father’s grandson, my brother’s nephew, it’s very obvious it does hit close to home.”

Hines took to Facebook to share a post expressing his angst about the resulting riots protesting Floyd’s death and urging the community to focus on the real issue at hand.

“I haven’t walked in my son’s shoes because he is a different color than me, however, I’ve seen him bleed and believe it or not, he bleeds the same color as I do,” Hines said in a Facebook post. “We worry just like (KK) does every day if something like this can happen to him. The answer is yes, yes it can.”

Scott Hardy shared the post adding his gratitude to be part of a standup family who has welcomed him with open arms.

“In relation to Jeff’s post, he has never made me feel like I wasn’t part of the family,” Hardy said. “From the moment KK and I began dating, he made it his purpose to make me part of the family. That goes for his wife, Kim, and grandma they call Mimi. They have always made me comfortable and made the transition and our relationship a lot easier to deal with and I am very thankful for that.”

Hardy admits his perspective may differ from some of his peers as he grew up exposed to so many people within the community where he felt a part of their families. 

“In that regard, I haven’t necessarily been nervous in Alex City,” Hardy said. “I have had multiple experiences where I could definitely tell, ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore.’ I was stopped driving one weekend (while out of town) and basically had five to seven officers who stopped me because I fit the profile of a young black male. That was an intense thing to be a part of.”

Hines added while every parent will worry about their children endlessly, the current situation take things to a whole other level.

“First of all KK and (her sister) Darby both have Korean blood in their body,” Hines said. “There’s always a concern as a mom or dad; it doesn’t really matter if they’re polka-dotted. Yes, I am concerned when (KK and Scott) go places but I am concerned for all my kids.”

KK said her dad has always been a strong role model and one to speak his mind, so although his post wasn’t surprising, it was very emotional.

“I think when we first read it, it was obviously very emotional as a daughter to see how much they love their son-in-law,” KK said. “But I grew up in a home where that was not an issue. My dad was a basketball coach and Mom was an educator, so we were raised to love everyone. So I think my dad coming out and saying that, everyone already knew our family thought that way.”

Scott agreed Hines is known for his compassion, which is also evident from his former basketball players who commented on the Facebook post with nothing but positivity and acceptance. 

“I’m not an emotional person, but that definitely solidified just the type of person (Jeff) is,” Hardy said. “People, given the opportunity, will show their true colors. My experience with Jeff is he’s done nothing but do that.”

Hardy and KK both agree within Alexander City, they have the support of many friends and family who love them and they have never felt judged.

“As a community, we do a great job,” KK said. “Scott and I have never felt out of place. We have so many people that love us. Because we were raised like that, it’s not something that worries me and I really don’t care what people think. I have found the person I have fallen in love with and want to be with for the rest of my life so people should be happy.”

Locally, Scott, who is an Alexander City councilmember, has worked with Alexander City Police Department chief Jay Turner to hire a more diverse police force and Turner has worked openly to do so.

“Chief Turner has done a tremendous job,” Hardy said. “For right now, there seems to be a conscious effort to try to increase the awareness and better the relationship between the community and police department. There have been multiple instances where Turner had job openings and would give me a heads up for if I knew anyone. Everyone I have sent him has been hired.”

As a third-grade teacher, KK is especially sensitive when it comes to her students and the thought of them growing up in a world of injustice.

“I think about my kids in my room and wonder, ‘Are they scared?’” KK said. “It breaks my heart that they have to go through that. We have got to do better about speaking out, listening and trying to figure out what we can do to help this problem.”

While the Hardys and Hines are accepting as a family, they all agree change must be made and awareness on issues surrounding people of color should continue.

“It’s important that we know how they feel and I’m talking about anybody of color; we can’t just settle for this,” Jeff Hines said. “We’ve got a long way to go with all races and nationalities. If I had the answers to fix it, I would wholeheartedly share them. I don’t know but I’m a guy that speaks from the heart and I’m what you see is what you get.”

KK feels others should follow in her father’s heroic footsteps.

“It’s come to a time now, we need to speak out and say what we’re feeling,” she said. “We can’t be silent about it.”

Amy Passaretti is a staff writer with the Alexander City Outlook.