New Jersey school apologizes over slave auction poster assignment

Nina Pineda Image
Monday, March 13, 2017
NJ school apologizes over slave auction poster assignment
Nina Pineda has the story from South Orange.

SOUTH ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Posters for slave auctions created by fifth-graders have been removed from the wall of a New Jersey elementary school hallway after some parents questioned the assignment.

The South Orange-Maplewood School District is planning a community meeting to discuss whether the assignment -- which asked to students to draw "examples of an event that would occur during (your) assigned colonial time period, including a poster for a lecture, speech, protest or slave auction" -- is appropriate for fifth-graders.

Superintendent John Ramos said in a note to parents that the project at South Mountain Elementary School is part of a larger Colonial America unit that's been used for 10 years.

One poster listed the names of available slaves, who included 12-year-old Anne, described as "a fine housegirl." Another poster says, "All slaves raised on the plantation of John Carter," and specifies that only cash is accepted.

The posters were called into question after they were observed hanging in the hallway during parent-teacher conferences.

Reaction was mixed.

"That's crazy, and I don't think they should've done that," parent Glenn Conover said. "That's disrespectful, first of all, to any of the black kids in the school."

Others point to a dark period in American history that needs to be taught.

"It's part of history, of course," caregiver Andrea Espinoza said. "It happened. I think it's good that they know.

Ramos said the projects should have been accompanied by an explanation.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)