DC elementary school apologizes for having students of color portray slaves

Administrators at Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Elementary School have apologized for assigning students of color to portray slaves in a classroom exercise, according to CNN.

"At Lafayette, we believe in the importance of teaching painful history with sensitivity and social awareness," Principal Carrie Broquard wrote in a letter to families dated Dec. 23. "Unfortunately, we fell short of those values in a recent 5th grade lesson."

The students, she added, "should not have been tasked with acting out or portraying different perspectives of enslavement and war."


Broquard wrote that in an assignment on the Civil War and Reconstruction students were assigned to either put on a dramatic reading, create a podcast or stage a living picture, which led to some students being asked by peers to play “inappropriate and harmful” roles, such as "a person of color drinking from a segregated water fountain and an enslaved person," according to the letter.

The students themselves were, in many cases, visibly uncomfortable with the roles they were being asked to play, according to Broquard.

"We deeply regret that we did not foresee this as a potential challenge in role playing so we could set appropriate parameters to protect students,” the letter stated.

Broquard said the lesson will not be offered in the future.

"The school recognized its mistakes, addressed the matter with families, and is actively reinforcing values of racial equity across the entire school community,” District of Columbia Public Schools said in a statement of its own, according to CNN.

“We support Lafayette Elementary as it nurtures young scholars to be models of social awareness and responsibility."