AFTER decades of controversy, Dunoon’s notorious Jim Crow stone is going to be painted over.

Previous attempts to change the oddly shaped rock near Hunters Quay have been met with resistance.

Whenever anyone has painted over the minstrel-like black face and red lips, someone has – until recently – always painted them back.

Staunch supporters of the boulder, locally and internationally, have denied that the stone is racist despite sharing a name with the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the US.

Embarrassingly, a picture of the rock features in one of the largest collections of racist memorabilia in the world – the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Montana.

And, shamefully, in 2017, Neville Lawrence, the father of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, said he was saddened to come across the rock while holidaying in the Cowal Peninsula.

It was painted over not long after, and made black with a small thin, white mouth.

Over the weekend, the initials “BLM” were painted on the stone.

For the last two years the community has been trying to find a way forward for the stone that would be backed by the whole community.

That resulted in a competition for local school kids to come up with a design that “re-defines the rock as a symbol which unifies, rather than divides”.

Over 100 entries have been received and a winner is due to be announced soon.

There’s been a renewed interest in the rock following the death of George Floyd and the global Black Lives Matters protests. A petition started last week has now been signed by just under 5000 people.

Local MSP Michael Russell said he had received “a number of representations over the weekend” about the stone.

In a statement, released to the Dunoon Observer, he said the local community were taking action.

He said: “It is time that the rock was dealt with in a way that unites the town and indeed in early 2018 a number of local people approached Councillor Alan Reid and myself to ask us to try and help to do so.

“We agreed to try and help but were unable to find out who

owned it.

“Nonetheless we moved ahead and were assisted by the influence of former moderator Rev Lorna Hood who convened a meeting of Hunter’s Quay Community Council, Dunoon Community Council, the local police, Dunoon Grammar School, local churches and The Dunoon Observer to discuss a way forward.

“Whilst initially there were some disagreements, there was in the end a widespread view that change was required.

“As a result of the meeting the individual who had been painting the rock agreed to stop.

“Thereafter it was envisaged that there should be a competition for local young people to bring forward new design ideas which would re-define the rock as a symbol which unifies, rather than divides, the town.”

Russell said there would be no cover up, and a plaque would “explain the history of the rock”.

Back in 2017, Lawrence told the Dunoon Observer: “I find it very disappointing that there is this thing that makes people feel very uncomfortable.”

He added: “We do not need to have this kind of division in the world.”