Last week, fourth graders attending Waxhaw Elementary School in Waxhaw, North Carolina were asked as part of a class project to imagine what people living in their state during the period leading up to the American Civil War would have posted to Twitter.
Predictably, although unconsidered by the teacher who created the assignment, the students published a collection of pro-slavery comments and racist hashtags.
Charming gems such as, “@dontStopSlavery, you may not agree with slavery but I do and I’m honest about it” and “#SlaveryForlife” were displayed on a classroom wall and uploaded to the school’s Facebook page.
Both were removed after angry parents flooded the school with letters and phone calls.
Kimberly Morrison-Hansley, a member of the Union County NAACP chapter who was the first Black woman elected to the Union County Department of Education, told WCNC, a local NBC News affiliate,
Morrison-Hansley also called the apology “inadequate” in an interview with the Charlotte Observer.
Superintendent Andrew Houlihan, meanwhile, agreed and condemned the assignment in a statement on Twitter last Thursday.
“Today I was made aware of an elementary school assignment about the Civil War that was racially insensitive and not appropriate. I want to be clear: any type of assignment such as this is unacceptable. We are taking this matter very seriously,” wrote Houlian, “and will ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are actively dev. PD to address diversity, equity and inclusion and rec. that lessons such as these have no place in any @UCPSNC school. We are addressing this matter and sincerely apologize to our Ss, staff, families and community.”
will ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are actively dev. PD to address diversity, equity and inclusion and rec. that lessons such as these have no place in any @UCPSNC school. We are addressing this matter and sincerely apologize to our Ss, staff, families and community.
— Andrew G. Houlihan (@AGHoulihan) March 12, 2021
On Monday, the Union County Board of Education issued a statement of its own saying that it was sorry for “offending parents, staff, students and members of our community” and that “this type of assignment is unacceptable.”
The school board pledged that it is “committed to working with teachers to discuss best practices for instruction” and promised that better training systems geared toward “diversity, equity, and inclusion” are currently under development. “We apologize are taking this matter very seriously and met with the entire Waxhaw Elementary staff.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.