We recently learned of a field trip in Rock Hill, where 5th grade children were instructed to sing as they picked cotton on a plantation. This activity was supposedly to educate the children about the history of slavery, but instead cheapened a horrific time in America’s history.  Rock Hill School District should consider the optics of such a “learning experience,” and that this type of curriculum does not convey the seriousness and reality of slavery in America.  The fact that the South Carolina school system would consider this field trip as remotely appropriate, in 2019 and during Black History Month, is an insult to all residents of South Carolina.

“The system of slavery that existed for 400 years in America should not and can not be reduced to something that would appear as a lighthearted event, comprised of enslaved human beings that were happy to work as slaves.  Africans and African-Americans suffered severe trauma, mental and physical abuse,and were stripped of their humanity daily.  Having 5th grade children pick cotton while singing “make me money” undermines the valuable lesson of the inhumanity of slavery, reducing it to bonfire antics and fiction,” said Shaundra Scott, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina.

The education system in South Carolina and nationwide, needs to develop a curriculum that addresses the history of slavery, racism and the role that America played in this inhumane institution.  The true acknowledgment of slavery and its affects on the African-American community would help to foster understanding and healing for all.  

This press release can be found here: https://www.aclusc.org/en/press-releases/aclu-sc-statement-rock-hill-fie...