Tennessee student’s slave assignment leads to lawsuit

Published 1:17 pm Monday, November 9, 2020

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee family has filed a lawsuit against Metro Nashville Public Schools and a teacher over an elementary school assignment about slavery.
The assignment at Waverly Belmont Elementary in Nashville was called “Let’s Make a Slave.” The Tennessean reports it was given to a fourth grade class in February and focused on a historical speech to white Virginia colonists about how to control their slaves.
The family claims that the “wild graphic and inappropriate” content caused physical and emotional harm to their child, who has autism.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court. It claims the speech contains “the most dehumanizing, vile, and racist prose imaginable.”
The child, who is Black, is referred to as John Doe in the court filing. The suit alleges the child suffered repeated acts of racial harassment by adults and peers.
It alleges the teacher and the school district knew about the harassment and the “racially hostile educational environment” but were indifferent to the circumstances.
The assignment asked students to read the speech, listen to the instructions contained in the speech and even pretend to be actual slaves by “folding themselves under their desks and pretending to seek freedom from slavery,” according to the lawsuit.
Metro Schools on Thursday declined to comment further on the pending litigation.
The assignment led to community outrage earlier this year, including calls from community and city leaders asking for stronger oversight and policies for the district.

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