Teacher Sorry for Binding Girls in Slavery Lesson

Jim Fitzgerald, AP, December 5, 2008

A white social studies teacher attempted to enliven a seventh-grade discussion of slavery by binding the hands and feet of two black girls, prompting outrage from one girl’s mother and the local chapter of the NAACP. After the mother complained to Haverstraw Middle School, the superintendent said he was having “conversations with our staff on how to deliver effective lessons.”

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The teacher apologized to the mother who complained and her 13-year-old daughter during a meeting Thursday that also included a representative of the local NAACP. But the mother, Christine Shand of Haverstraw, said Friday she thinks the teacher should be removed from the class.

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On Nov. 18, Bernstein was discussing the conditions under which African captives were taken to America in slave ships. She bound the two students’ hands and feet with tape and had them crawl under a desk to simulate the experience, Monahan and Shand said. Monahan said the girls were not the only blacks in the class.

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Wilbur Aldridge, director of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the history demonstration, first reported in The Journal News, “went wrong when she started to do that binding.”

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Aldridge said he feared that the teacher still “didn’t get it” after their meeting. He said the teacher apologized “because Gabrielle was upset, not because she admitted she did something wrong.”

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noose

The NAACP did not object to this black history lesson. See below. (Additional note: Other photos of this staging, which took place at Grambling University, have become ever more difficult to find on the Internet.)


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Meanwhile, teachers at an elementary school on the campus of Grambling State University, a historically black college, are under fire for a lesson on racism that included a mock lynching of at least one student, according to The News Star.

The Gramblinite, a student newspaper, posted a story and photos of the incident last week. School officials later ordered the paper to remove these items from its website, according to The News Star.

That paper says the story reported: kindergarten and first-grade students at Alma J. Brown Elementary will always remember the day they marched for equality. The children marched in protest of the imprisonment of Mychal Bell, and the seemingly racial bias shown toward blacks in a small Louisiana town. . . . Before marching, the students were taught about racism. They also learned about the events surrounding the ‘Jena Six’ and their arrest. . . . [teachers] had a replica noose and explained why it is such a symbol of racism. They also allowed the children to carry chains and shackles.

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