Virginia School Teacher Holds Mock Slave Auction

Actions highlight ongoing concerns around a sensitive issue.

Posted: 04/13/2011 02:44 PM EDT

Slavery is the embodiment of one of the nation’s most shameful periods in history and still a very sensitive issue that divides Blacks and Whites and the North and South. Because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, countless commemorations and re-enactments are scheduled to take place. But some people, it appears, are going a little too far.

According to a report by Norfolk, Virginia-based WFTV 9, Jessica Boyle, a fourth-grade history teacher at the Sewells Point Elementary School, attempted on Tuesday to dramatize the Civil War by separating African-American and mixed-race students from the rest of the class to be auctioned off as slaves. The school’s principal was unaware of her plans and only learned of the simulation after two parents complained.

What was Boyle thinking? The school is named after one of the war’s earliest battles, which may have led her to think it was a good idea, but as the school’s principal, Mary Wrushen, said, “the lesson could have been thought through more carefully as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation,” WFTV 9 reports.

The simulated auction highlights the divergent opinions about why the war was fought and some people’s ongoing insensitivity. Shocking though the idea of the auction might be, could Boyle have made a bigger point if she’d singled out the white children to be sold off instead? Now that would have made for some interesting conversation!


(Photo:  Library of Congress)