• Mother, student upset about slavery question in middle school class

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County mother is upset about a question her child had to answer about slavery for a middle school class project.

    The assignment was for a seventh-grade social studies class at Coleman Middle School in Duluth.

    The students were asked to respond to the following: “Slavery wasn’t such a bad thing because slaves were an important investment and people take care of important investments. Explain why you agree or disagree.”

    "I really didn't feel comfortable writing," student Lyndon Nichols said. "What bothered me most is that they said it wasn't that bad."

    Lyndon went home and told his mother about the assignment.


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    "Right now, I'm still haunted by it, that he saw something like that," Angela Nichols said.

    Officials with the school district said the question was one of several “agree or disagree” questions for the class as part of a wider curriculum.

    "Slavery is like sex. That's a touchy subject. You have to notify parents about that," Nichols said. 

    The mother said the question should never have reached students in the first place.

    A district spokesperson said the principal looked into concerns and understood how the statement could have been taken out of context.

    The principal apologized to the student and his mother, removed the question and exercise from the lesson plan and has worked with the family to address their concerns.

    Lyndon has been moved to another class.

    Here is the full statement from the school:

    In the course of learning about history, students are often asked to examine and discuss difficult and disturbing historic events and time periods. Several weeks ago, a 7th grade class assignment at Coleman Middle School included an activity that asked students to think critically about a topic they had been learning about-- Africa and Europe’s role in slavery.

    As part of the exercise, students were asked to discuss several statements about slavery and provide reasons why they agreed or disagreed with them.

    While the study of Africa and slavery are part of the 7th grade curriculum, this particular activity did not come from our social studies office. When the administration at Coleman Middle learned that a student felt uncomfortable with one of the statements that was a part of the activity, the principal looked into the student’s concerns and understood how the statement could have been taken out of context. The principal then apologized to the student and his mother, removed the question and exercise from the lesson plan, and has worked with the family to address their concerns.

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