A history lesson about the Little Rock Nine took a left turn at Basis Phoenix Central School in Phoenix, Arizona, and a student’s mother isn’t too happy about it.
According to ABC 15, Claudia Rodriguez took to social media this week to criticize her son’s school for a historical reenactment she says was “racially insensitive.”
Rodriguez, says her son, who is African-American, was picked to be the center of humiliation during the lesson about the historic photo of Little Rock Nine walking into Little Rock Central High School after desegregation.
The lesson was intended for the third-grade students to experience the event that occurred surrounding nine African American students being yelled at with racial slurs in 1957.
Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t positive for Rodriguez son, who she says was deeply affected by the situation.
Although the school is aware of her concerns, they are still supporting the activity. The school made the point that her son volunteered to participate. The school also said that students revealed no signs of being “upset.”
“The issue is not whether or not the students volunteered because I would imagine young students would volunteer to do all kinds of things, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily understand the gravity of that,” said Neal Lester, the director for Project Humanities at Arizona State University.
Not only does Lester believes the lesson was “insensitive,” but he is also questioning what lesson the students are learning from the reenactment and what point the lesson plan was trying to prove.
A Phoenix, Az., charter school is under fire for using a Black child to reenact the 1957 pic of a hostile/screaming white mob surrounding Elizabeth Eckford to teach students about Little Rock Nine—9-y.o. boy’s teachers and classmates berated him in lesson.https://t.co/dqvAXjB25u pic.twitter.com/9avxKU67NO
— melinda d. anderson (@mdawriter) April 17, 2019
Rosalind Thompson, who is head of the school and also African-American is continuing the support the lesson factoring in her race, experience and understanding of the civil right movement.
“After the brief exercise, the class came together as a group and discussed what that felt like, how it likely made those heroic students in Little Rock feel, and how it compares to the loving and nurturing experience our students feel each day,” Thompson said.
The third graders were reenacting when Little Rock Nine entered Little Rock Central High School following desegregation and one mother says her son, who is black, was chosen to walk between a line of students while they screamed and humiliated him. https://t.co/ZHwsPQNBAj
— RTV6 Indianapolis (@rtv6) April 17, 2019
Unlike Rodriguez, the school has gained from support from parents, with some saying that the lesson provided “an important perspective” on civil rights for their children.
The school met with African-American community leaders about the issue and discussed the “best practices” about the situation in the future.