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>When the Isms Really Need to Sit Down and Talk

>The blog Prometheus 6 led me to this story in the LA Times about two teachers fired for supporting students who wanted to read from Marilyn Nelson’s A Wreath for Emmett Till at an assembly honoring Black History Month:

Teachers and students said the administration suggested that the Till case — in which the teenager was beaten to death in Mississippi after allegedly whistling at a white woman — was not fitting for a program intended to be celebratory, and that Till’s actions could be viewed as sexual harassment.

So I guess he was asking for it. But, wait, what was she wearing?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Anonymous says:

    >I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. This is so *status quo* in many American schools. Keep the students sheltered from the real events of the past and present, so as to not make them question the U.S. and its policies.

    This is no different than the showlace experiment, used to sheld students from the true emotional and social and political issues of that time.

    What too about the U.S’s historical treatment of Native Americans? Women? The victims of Hurricane Katrina? The Iraqis? The list is far longer.

    Maybe the justification is that teachers can’t make the students feel bad, and possibly hurt their self-esteem. Au shucks…give then all “A’s” while you’re at it too. Maybe it makes for stronger citizens.

    And by flipping blame to Emmett Till himself by implying that his death was deserved because he apparently whistled, thus causing “sexual abuse”, is beyond ugly.

    Hey students out there…U.S. history is filled with examples of overt brutality. Both past and present. At the rate and direction we’re going, the future may be no different.

    We need to thoroughly teach these examples of history in order to bring awareness and knowledge to the students, in order that we have some hope for the future of this country.

    M (happily homeschooling)

  2. >*seethes*


  3. Kelly Fineman says:

    >Color me perplexed. What is Black History month if you can’t talk about the bad stuff? Because seriously, even MLK and Harriett Tubman were oppressed.

    And Marilyn Nelson’s book is a work of staggering genius.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Brilliant line, Roger.

  5. rindawriter says:

    >This sort of thing distresses me beyond measure to think about. I felt sick reading about it.

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