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By Alex Johnson
The principal of a grade school in the suburbs of Virginia has apologized for a physical education exercise in which students should run as escaped slaves for the Black History month.
"The lesson was culturally insensitive to our students and families, and I apologize to our students and our school community," said David Stewart, director of the Madison Trust Elementary School at Ashburn, Virginia Letter to Parents on February 1
The incident is particularly sensitive to Virginia, whose governor Ralph Northam has apologized after it was revealed that a racist photo appeared on his page in his 1984 medical school yearbook featuring black-faced men and Ku Klux Klan robes , Northam refused to ask two parties to resign.
The Loudoun Times-Mirror newspaper, which first reported on Madison's Trust exercise on Thursday, said that third to fifth-grade students had a "game" in gym class in which to play Groups attacked an obstacle course designed to represent the subway line, the network of secret ways through which slaves fled to the Free States and Canada in the 19th century.
At a school board meeting last week, Michelle Thomas, president of the Loudoun District Council of the NAACP, told the chamber that she learned from the exercise last month in a letter that the students had the choice of being a slave, partner, or landowner his.
But "slavery was no joke". She said. "They could not decide."
Thomas said children would "not experience slavery again, we have done enough, we have paid enough."
She repeated: "They had children who are out of control slaves," the school board said, "They have to run away."
Linda Deans, a retired educator, told the blackboard that "she's a black male student in the Crawl dark on the floor while he's doing a "A lesson about a runaway slave is an offensive education strategy. "
" Corrective action is needed now, not the next school year, "said Deans.
The director, Stewart, said in his letter to the parents that" this incident took place showed us the need to explore, as we did make sure that this will never happen again. "
He said that the material learned in the exercise would be presented in a different way" to ensure that all students understand all the knowledge about the Internet in an appropriate and respectful context.
He also said that he would call a "justice / cultural responsibility" team, "details he did not provide.
Thomas told NBC Washington on Thursday that she was "pleased with the progress we make."