2nd grader dons blackface to play MLK for school project
COLORADO – A second-grader at an elementary school in Colorado was told to remove blackface makeup he wore for a performance in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
The project was a part of the second grade’s “Wax Museum Day” assignment for a history class at Meridian Ranch Elementary School in Peyton, Colo. Sean King was assigned to portray Dr. King by his teacher.
“All I heard was, ‘Wow, your costume is awesome,’” Sean said.
However, when his parents, Michelle and Anthony, went to see their son’s presentation they were told there was a problem: the principal said the face paint had to go. “They wanted me to clean up immediately or leave,” said Sean.
Following further discussions with the principle and two school officials, the couple opted to pull their son out of school for the day. They were told at least one employee at the school took offense to the costume.
“It’s embarrassing,” mom Michelle said. “It’s sad for the kids and sad for Sean because he’s a very good student. He really thinks of school very highly.
A school spokeswoman said a complaint led the principal to determine the costume was a disruption.
“When something becomes offensive or distracting, that’s when it falls under the board policy of dress code, and making sure if something is distracting that it’s removed from the learning environment,” said school spokesperson Stephanie Meredith.
Blackface paint has historically been used in minstrel shows where white performers portrayed black characters, often in an offensive or demeaning way. Even today there is consistent debate over whether it’s ever appropriate for white performers to put on black makeup.
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