Black History Month Letter From N.C. School Causes Controversy

BY: - 26 Mar '12 | On the Web

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A letter from an elementary school asking students to wear “African-American clothing” and animal prints to commemorate Black History Month has gone viral on the internet.



A letter sent home with a group of elementary school students in Union County  last month surfaced on the Internet this week.

The letter, bringing attention to Western Union Elementary School’s Black History Month celebration, asked parents to help their students participate in Black History Day by dressing “in African-American attire.”

The letter went on to suggest students wear animal print clothing “or shirts with animals native to Africa,” and cited zebras, lions, giraffes and elephants.

The letter was sent out ahead of the school’s Feb. 28 Black History Day celebration.

Popular LGBT rights blog  posted a picture of the letter Tuesday. Before the site used the photo, it had been posted to a popular image sharing site,  imgur, and shared on the content-sharing website,  reddit. According to the author of the reddit post, the picture came from a friend who is from a nearby town.

According to  Union County  Public Schools’ Chief Communications Officer Luan Ingram, the letter has been sent out to parents for several years without complaint. She said they did not hear any complaints from the school community this year, either.

“While it was well-intended, it was poorly worded,” Ingram said. “We are reminding all of our principals to be very sensitive in word choices when communicating with parents concerning different ethnic groups and cultures that make up our world.”

Another blogger picked up the story and found the school’s phone number as well as the principal’s email address as part of a call to action to contact the school and complain.

BMWKers, what do you think? Is the letter problematic or is the attention unwarranted? Sound off!


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  • Guest

    They probably just meant to say African i/o African American

  • Andriea Ishman

    I think some attention had to be paid in order for an action to take place. I’m not sure that the letter going viral was warranted. It’s a wording issue. I’m sure that the school committee has already created a revised version of the letter.

  • Cheryl

    If their black history month includes actual history of Africa, this is a poor wording issue. On the other hand, if they encourage  the students to come to school wearing sagging pants and dooky gold, that is another matter entirely.

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