Parents are complaining after a school asked students to pretend they were slaves for a writing assignment.

The school in Mississippi sparked outrage by sending home a ‘Slave Letter Writing Activity’.

A teacher at Purvis Middle School set the task, and a screenshot was posted on Twitter by Black Lives Matter Mississippi.

Unsurprisingly, it’s since gone viral. Critics are saying it’s unacceptable in this day and age, and “more than disturbing, to say the least.”

The activity instructs students to ‘pretend like you are a slave working on a Mississippi plantation. Write a letter to your family back in Africa or in another American state describing your life.’

‘You may discuss the journey to America, as well as the day-to-day tasks you perform. You may also want to tell about the family you live with/work for and how you pass your time when you aren’t working. Write at least three paragraphs (five sentences) in your letter.’

Meanwhile, Lamar County School District Superintendent Dr. Steven Hampton has confirmed the exercise is real to WDAM.
He confirmed the assignment was given to children at the school on Wednesday, March 3.

However, he insists the assignment was the last slide of a PowerPoint presentation about ‘atrocities and negatives of slavery’.

It was planned to show our students just how horrible slavery was and to gain empathy for what it was like to be a slave… we do not discriminate against race. We want to be sensitive to what happened in the past.’

Apologies

The school’s principal Frank Bunnell apologised for ‘something like this happening under my watch,’ in an email seen by The Daily Beast.

Bunnell wrote: ‘A person could read just the assignment and draw a very unrealistic view of the true tragedies that occurred. That was not intended. However, intent does not excuse anything. There is no excuse to downplay a practice that (even after abolished) spurs unjust laws, unfair economic practices, inhumane treatment, and suppression of a people.’

The Black Lives Matter Mississippi social media manager Jeremy Marquell Bridges told The Daily Beast: ‘I don’t know how a logical person teaches this. Like someone who went to school to teach children could think this exercise was helpful in any way. It’s not helpful, it’s hurtful.’

Purvis Middle School has around 12% Black pupils, with the majority white. ‘This is Klan territory,’ Bridges said. The average student split across the state is around 50% Black students.

Do you agree with the task or are people right to be offended?

Image via Alamy