United States: a school prosecuted for the reproduction of a slave cotton field

The mother of a 17-year-old student has claimed $250,000 in damages from the Laurel Span School, located in Hollywood (United States), because of a reproduction deemed shocking of a cotton field representing the daily slaves of the time.

An “insensitive” project. These are the terms chosen by Rashunda Pitts, a mother who decided to sue her daughter’s school in Hollywood over a reproduction of a slave cotton field.

Claiming more than 243,500 euros in damages, the mother of the family assured that her daughter suffered from health problems since the establishment of reproduction. “She has uncontrollable anxiety attacks and (…) experiences depressive episodes when she thinks about the cotton harvest project,” assured the complainant.

“Baffled by the fact that a field of cotton grows in Hollywood, all the more on the ground of a public school”, Rashunda Pitts had asked to speak with the management of the establishment. The school director then told him that the children in his class were currently studying the black abolitionist author Frederick Douglass and that this reproduction made it possible to understand his daily life, in the midst of slavery.

“Quite revolted by the idea of ​​the school asking her daughter and other children to harvest cotton as part of a school exercise to identify with the reality of African American slaves, Ms Pitts had expressed his disappointment and pain” at an “insensitive” project, according to the complaint revealed.

In response, the Los Angeles Unified School District, which oversees the school, expressed regret in a statement that an “educational activity” was deemed insensitive. “When school officials were made aware of a parent’s concern about the cotton field, they responded immediately by removing it,” the school district said.

According to the complaint, the school had failed to ask parents for permission or to notify them of the project before it was carried out.

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