District Suspends White Teacher Over Blackface Lesson

Residents in Monroe Township, Mich., are rallying behind the teacher who was suspended after the lesson.

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Primrose and West's Big Minstrels
Primrose & West's Big Minstrels

Library of Congress, Strobridge Lith. Co., circa 1896

A Michigan community is rallying behind a teacher who was suspended after showing a video of white entertainers in blackface during an African-American history lesson, according to the Monroe News.

The white teacher, Alan Barron, 59, showed his Monroe Middle School eighth-grade class a video of how white people used blackface to imitate African Americans during so-called entertainment in the 1800s, the report says. But an assistant principal halted the lesson, calling it “offensive and racist,” the report says.

Some parents and other members of Monroe Township, Mich., however, disagree with the district. Adrienne Aaron, whose husband is African American, told the publication that her daughter was “not offended” by the lesson, the report says.

“She was more offended that they stopped the video,” Aaron told the News about her daughter. “It had nothing to do with racism. History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we've come in America. How is that racism?"

The News says that a number of parents and students expressed the same sentiment as Aaron and are rallying behind Barron, “who is retiring at the end of this school year after 36 years in the classroom.”

The district spokesman, Bobb Vergiels, told the site that Barron was suspended and only stated that he is “on leave.”

“Mr. Barron has been on leave for about a week while we look into a reported situation in his classroom,” Vergiels said in a statement. “Because this is a personnel matter that is going through the teacher- contract required steps, we cannot comment any further.”

Read more at the Monroe News.