Virginia Elementary School Apologizes Over Runaway Slave Game

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

A Virginia elementary school apologized over a gym class game where third through fifth grade students pretended to be runaway slaves and were instructed to go through an obstacle course that was supposed to depict the Underground Railroad.

The activity occurred in early February during “Black History Month” at Madison’s Trust Elementary School, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror Thursday. Principal David Stewart apologized to community members in a letter on Feb. 12 after receiving criticism.

Loudoun NAACP Chapter President Michelle Thomas said a black child was assigned to be a slave in at least one instance, the Times-Mirror reported. Public Information Officer of Loudoun County Public Schools Wayde Byard disputed Thomas’s accounts, saying students were not appointed to be “slaves” or “slave owners.”

Thomas said this was not the first time such an incident occurred, noting she receives complaints from parents surrounding slavery lessons around this time of year, according to the Time-Mirror.

“This is not the first one,” Thomas said, the Times-Mirror reported. “This is the first one of many. This is the most egregious, and the timing is incredible.”

Stewart’s letter said students in the “specific class times” would be taught the material again. (RELATED: Northam Cancels ‘Reconciliation Tour’ At Historically Black College After Student Body Leader Tells Him To Stay Away)

“A next step for us as a school involves the formation of an equity/culturally responsive team which will be comprised of school personnel and parent representatives,” Stewart wrote in the letter.

The situation at the elementary school comes as Virginia politicians are under fire over racism. A photo from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook resurfaced, which showed one person in a Ku Klux Klan costume and another in blackface under his name. The state’s Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface at a party in the 1980s.

Steward and Byard did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The NAACP Loudon County was reached out to via Facebook.

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