A Kennesaw, Ga., mother is demanding answers after a white student called her son a slave during the school’s Civil War Day last month.
According to the Associated Press, Big Shanty Intermediate School—which is near Kennesaw Mountain, where Confederate soldiers once fired their cannons at Union troops—encouraged fifth-graders to dress up as characters from the war last month.
One white student came dressed as a plantation owner and then walked up to Corrie Davis’ 10-year-old son, quipping, “You are my slave.”
Needless to say, Davis was furious.
“What I want them to understand is the pain it caused my son,” Davis told AP. Her son did not participate in the dress-up that day. “This is bringing them back to a time when people were murdered, when people died, when people owned people.”
Davis said that she met with school officials but became even more upset when the school refused to promise that it would never conduct a class in that manner again. Davis now says that she will bring up the issue at the regularly scheduled school board meeting, hoping for a better response.
“No student was required to dress in period attire, and any student that did so was not instructed, nor required, to dress in any specific attire,” school-system spokesman John Stafford said in a brief statement. Officials refuse to confirm whether the annual Civil War Day will continue next year.
Although Stafford said that students were not required to dress up, a note was sent home to parents before the event, saying, “It creates a more realistic simulation when dressing in Civil War clothing.
“BE CREATIVE and use your resources to ensure that your costume is as accurate as possible,” the school’s note to parents also read. The note reportedly had a small picture of a man in Civil War attire with what seems to be one of several flags that were once used by the Confederacy.
“If they’re requiring that the costume be as accurate as possible ... some kid is going to come to school dressed as a plantation owner,” Davis explained in a Facebook video where she describes the impact the interaction had on her son. “My son is going to be looked upon as a slave at the school.”
Davis stressed that she had no problem with students learning the history of the Civil War but did not think that dressing up should be part of the lesson, according to WSB-TV. She does not intend to back down from this battle, in hopes that no other child will have to go through what her son did.
“What they can do is say, ‘We’re not going to do this anymore,’” Davis told AP. “It is mind-boggling to me that no one will say that.”