Mom: Slavery Assignment Shamed 6th Grader

MELVINDALE (WWJ) – A Melvindale mother says her 11-year-old son felt degraded by a social studies assignment that asked him to pretend to be a slave.

Jessica Gibson, 27, said the assignment, which was issued by a teacher at Jullian O. Strong Middle School, called for 6th grade students to pretend to be slaves, write about it in a journal and then record their thoughts on video.

Gibson told WWJ Newsradio 950 that her son, Taylan, refrained from telling her about the assignment because he was humiliated.

“He doesn’t understand why he was asked to be a slave. He said it made him feel ashamed of being African-American,” said Gibson. “He doesn’t understand what a slave’s life is.”

Bob Pettapiece, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Wayne State University, offered his throughts about teaching children about controversial subjects. “You need to build up to it,” he said. “You don’t just drop the assignment out there.”

“Using first-hand accounts or primary resources to read would be a better way to go about it, keeping in mind that he is in the sixth-grade,” said Pettapiece.

Gibson said her son is not being allowed to replace it with another assignment.

The district did not immediatly return WWJ’s calls about the assignment.


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