School apologizes for slave auction poster assignment

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (WPIX) – An assignment about the ugly but true era of slavery in colonial America has prompted an apology from the South Orange School District to concerned parents.

PIX11 approached parents outside the South Mountain Elementary School at pick up time on Monday, but most did not want to talk about the controversial assignment. Some told us outright that the news media shouldn't be there.

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But online, it is a different story.

Jamil Karriem posted photos of the slave auction posters. They've been shared or commented on hundreds of times.

"Educating young students on the harsh realities of slavery is of course not the issue here," read the Facebook post, "but the medium for said education is grossly insensitive and negligent... it breaks my heart that these will be the image that young black and brown kids see of people of their skin color."

One commenter wrote: "I cannot see any justification or lesson objective for having this kind of work taught to children in the manner it is displayed. I find it racist and insulting."

Another said: "See nothing wrong with this, people just need something to complain about. There were slaves in history and they were sold at auction."

The district did not respond to our request for comment, but they did respond to concerned parents, who wrote e-mails.

"The posters will be taken down," reads an e-mail from the assistant superintendent that was posted on Facebook. "It was never anyone's intention to offend any member of our community."

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