School Under Fire Over “Slave Auction” Poster Project
A history project at a New Jersey elementary school featuring posters for a slave market has caused outrage among parents and on social media. Fifth graders at South Mountain Elementary in South Orange had been assigned with creating the posters, which were displayed in the school’s hallway.
After complaints from several parents, the South Orange-Maplewood School District decided to set up a special community meeting. Parents will be invited to discuss the assignment and whether it was an appropriate choice for fifth grade students.
According to the district, the idea of the project was for the students to create “examples of an event that would occur during (your) assigned colonial time period, including a poster for a lecture, speech, protest or slave auction.”
In a letter to parents, Superintendent John Ramos explained that the curriculum featuring this assignment had been in use for a decade at South Mountain Elementary. However, several parents raised concerns after seeing the posters hanging in the hallway. Some of them featured names of Slaves that were for sale and described them in terms such as “a fine housegirl” or “raised on the plantation”. The school has meanwhile removed the posters and apologized to the community.