School In Hot Water For 'Pilgrim' Photograph That Appears To Show A Black Girl On Leashes

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School In Hot Water For 'Pilgrim' Photograph That Appears To Show A Black Girl On Leashes

Administrators say the image was posted out of context.

Published October 20, 2017

A school in Massachusetts was taken to task when a classroom photo that appeared to show a young Black girl on leashes was shared by a teacher. 

Administrators at Mitchell Elementary School in Bridgewater say the photo was posted without the full context. According to the school, the picture was taken during an enrichment program about the Pilgrims.  

In the image, an 8-year-old Black girl is kneeling before two other white classmates and the director of education at the Plimoth Plantation. The two white students hold straps attached to the girl, making it appear that she is enslaved.

“If you look at that picture out of context, what are you going to think? It’s clearly what it looks like. It’s disgusting,” an unidentified parent told CBS Boston.

When the viral photo attracted outrage from parents, the school then explained the straps in the photo are “lead strings” used in the 17th century to keep children from wandering away or to assist them when learning to walk. The school also said the child pictured volunteered to take part in the lesson.

Superintendent Derek Swenson issued a statement that read:

“It was never the intent of the lesson to demean or degrade any one person or group. The Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District sincerely apologizes to the students, staff and community at large for this unfortunate incident.”

The parents of the student say they have met with administrators. A spokesperson for Plimoth Plantation also apologized and said the program and the set-up of the photo has been taken to numerous classrooms.  

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Getty Images)

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