Fifth graders make slave auction posters for school assignment

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The district says it hasn’t decided yet whether the assignment will remain part of the curriculum next year.

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Another poster reads, “All slaves raised on the plantation of John Carter,” and specifies that only cash is accepted.

Anne is 12 years old and would make a "fine housegirl" while another unnamed 52-year-old is listed as a "good kennel man," posters advertising slave auctions at a New Jersey elementary school said.

The South Orange School District is planning a community meeting to discuss whether the assignment is appropriate for fifth-graders, NJ.com reported.

The posters, made by the Grade 5 class, have been removed from the wall of a hallway of South Mountain Elementary School in South Orange, N.J., after some parents questioned the assignment.

One poster listed the names of available slaves, which included "housegirl" Anne, 18-year-old "feild (sic) hand" Sam and a "great hunter" named Edwin, 24.

Superintendent John Ramos said in a note to parents that the project at South Mountain Elementary School is part of a larger Colonial America unit that’s been used for 10 years. He said an anti-bias expert consulted by the district after parents raised concerns highlighted the fact that schools often skip over painful aspects of American history, and he said educators need to do a better job of “acknowledging the uglier parts of our past, so that children learn the full story.”

– With files from Postmedia Network

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He said that some families have supported the assignment “because they see it as an important opportunity to examine this shameful and too often ignored chapter of American history,” while others were disturbed that young students “were being asked to put themselves in the virtual shoes of people who subjugated others.” Ramos says the projects should have been accompanied by an explanation.