*A Metro Nashville Public Schools student who is African American and has autism has sued the district over a “Let’s Make A Slave” lesson taught to his fourth grade class earlier this year.
The “lesson” at Waverly-Belmont Elementary School focused on a slave owner’s speech to white Virginia colonists on how to control slaves. Among other statements, the suit shows the speech included comparing African Americans to horses, tarring slaves, and setting them on fire. The suit contends that by being forced to hear the speech and go through the lesson, the boy was subjected to a “racially hostile environment” and he and his classmates were told to pretend they were actually slaves.
According to the lawsuit reported by FOX 17 News, the boy’s autism “involves not knowing whether to take statements literally and understanding context.” The suit called the lesson “extraordinarily despicable and inflammatory.”
The lesson was reportedly planned by a student-teacher from Vanderbilt University and approved by the class teacher.
“John Doe and classmates were told to pretend they were actual slaves, folding themselves under desks and pretending to seek freedom from slavery by being mailed away in a box,” the suit states. “The students were instructed that if they moved, they would be caught and returned to a life of slavery.”
The school district said in a statement released back in February that the “student-teacher was dismissed and asked not to return to Waverly-Belmont as a result of teaching material that was not age appropriate or within the scope of sequence for the 4th grade class. Metro Schools regrets if any students or parents were caused pain as a result of this incident. District leaders have been working with school administrators and parents to address concerns for the students involved.”
Below is a news report about the instructor’s dismissal back in February, before the boy’s lawsuit against the school district.
Read the full lawsuit below: