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A school in New Jersey Has Fifth Graders Make Slave Auction Posters For History Class

A school in New Jersey Has Fifth Graders Make Slave Auction Posters For History Class

By Moses Kamuiru

History Class Project

In South Orange, New Jersey, parents at an elementary school were outraged when they went to a parent/teacher conferences in the school and saw posters advertising slave auctions hanging in the hallway. The school’s fifth-grade class had drawn the posters as a project for their History class. The children were asked to create posters advertising slave auctions while learning about colonial America.

Culturally Insensitive Assignment

The school would later remove the signs after parents took to the social media to voice their concern about the project. A school superintendent apologized for the “culturally insensitive” project assignment. There were complaints by parents about the auction posters which contained such wording as “Anne, aged 12 years, a fine house girl” and “Men: aged 20-26, strong.” There were wanted posters created by the students apparently for runaway slaves which showed men and women who were skinned with attached dollar rewards. One of the parents who took to the social media, Jamil karriem posted image posters on Facebook and encouraged fellow parents to take to the school district and Alyna Jacobs, the school principal and complain. Karriem said on Facebook that those images were on display for all students who are aged between four and ten to see including those kids that did not have any context of the underlying purpose or lesson. Karriem would continue to say that it was COMPLETELY lost on her how the project would teach American History to any group or any student effectively.

Unintended Offense

Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr., who is a superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District said that he and the Principle both apologized for any unintended offense caused and that they had already removed the posters from the display. Dr. Ramos continued to note that the school administration recognized that the example of a slave auction poster was culturally insensitive although it was historically relevant. He pointed out that they respected and comprehended the strong reaction by some parents after seeing the slave auction posters included with other artwork from the said assignment. Dr. Ramos said the school was rethinking of the Colonial America Project for next year and that they would remove the slave auction poster example.

Ugly and foundation Role

The students of the South Orange school were given the assignment to examine the ugly and foundational role that slavery played in colonial America. They were asked to select a colony to complete tasks and research which would include creating ads for slave auctions using the research they had made.

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