A middle school teacher in Monroe, Michigan has been suspended after showing a historical video in his history class showing a white man wearing blackface to imitate an African-American.
The video was part of a history lesson on Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Teacher Alan Barron, 59, played the video to show his students how some white Americans considered racist acts acceptable “entertainment” in the 1800s.
According to the Monroe News,
Monroe Middle School teacher Alan Barron remains suspended only two weeks before he is set to retire after 36 years with the district while administrators investigate whether his teaching methods about black history were inappropriate.
According to reports, an assistant principal at Monroe Middle School sat in Mr. Barron’s eighth grade classroom two weeks ago. When Mr. Barron showed the video, the assistant principal stopped the film. The following day, Barron received notice that he was being placed on paid administrative leave, pending investigation of charges of racism. During his suspension, he is unable to attend school events–including a retirement banquet at which he and other departing teachers were to be honored.Students in the class, including an African-American student, were not offended and felt that the lesson was an important one. The students and parents have been vocal in their support for Mr. Barron–organizing a #FreeMrBarron Twitter event, even printing and wearing t-shirts calling for his return.
At this point there has been no statement from the Michigan Education Association or its local chapter, the Monroe City Education Association. Barron and his attorney have declined to comment because the case is still pending.