As we kick-off another Black History Month, a Virginia middle school teacher finds herself in the midst of controversy as a result of a history lesson gone awry.

According to Tamika Derozen’s sixth grade son at Shelburne Middle School, in Staunton, VA, the class was studying a lesson on the Louisiana Purchase when “the teacher asked all of the African-American students to come to the front of the classroom” in order to pretend to be slaves, digging for cotton and coal, for a skit, while the white children were asked to portray noblemen.


Naturally, upon hearing what happened in the classroom, Derozen contacted the school and the principal apologized for the incident, explaining that the teacher was attempting to focus on a slave rebellion during the time and that, “she told the teacher you can’t single out a group of children based on their race.” However, unfortunately the story doesn’t end there.

Upon returning to class the following week, students walked into the room to find images from the miniseries Roots projected on the board, with the teacher allegedly asking the students if it made “sense” for a white actor to portray the role of a slave. According to Derozen and her son, the teacher went on to say, “…for those of you that I offended, I apologize. But I want you to understand my reason for calling you up as African-Americans is because you better fit the role as a slave.”

Derozen has now contacted the NAACP regarding the incident and is encouraging other parents to do the same. According to WHSV, Staunton City Schools Superintendent Linda Reviea sent out the following statement regarding the incident:

“We were just recently made aware of the incident at the Shelburne Middle School and are investigating the information we received. The matter will be handled swiftly and fairly according with School Board policy. If such behavior occurred, it is grossly inappropriate, insensitive and contradictory to the values of our school division and will not be tolerated. At all times we expect our teachers and staff to be positive role models and demonstrate sound judgement. I want to emphasize that in no way does Staunton City Schools condone or encourage instruction that deliberately singles out a person or group because of race and subjects them to disparagement or humiliation.”

Check out the news report below from WHSV News. We want to hear form you! Sound off on this hot topic-what do you think?

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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