Los Angeles Elementary School Teaches Students About Slavery by Having Them Pick Cotton

(AP Photo, File)

This is one of those stories that is so skull-hammeringly stupid, it makes me lose my faith in humanity. A black parent has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Board of Education because her child’s school in 2017 set up a cotton field so students could learn about slavery.


The Los Angeles Times reported:

Rashunda Pitts said her 14-year-old daughter, who is referred to as “S.W.” in the lawsuit, experienced emotional distress as a result of the project at Laurel Span School that her social justice teacher said was to help students “gain a real-life experience as to what the African American slaves had endured.” The suit also names the school’s then-principal and social justice teacher as defendants. Since the project, Laurel Span School was closed, and a new school — Laurel Cinematic Arts Creative Tech Magnet — was created in its place.

Pitts noticed in September 2017 that her daughter had become “very quiet and reserved,” which was very different from before when she would “vibrantly share her day with her mother,” according to the lawsuit.

The mother found out about the project when she dropped her daughter off at school and saw a cotton field in front of the building. She got on the phone and reached out to the principal, Amy Diaz, who was not available at the time. Instead, she spoke with Assistant Principal Brian Wisniewski, who told her that the class was reading Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. They created the cotton field so that the children could have a “real life experience” of slavery.

The assistant principal assured Pitts that the principal would reach out to her. When this conversation occurred, the mother asked Diaz to have the field taken down within 24 hours, but the principal said she could not do so in that time period but would try to have it done by the following week.


Pitt’s daughter recalled that her social justice teacher required children to “pick cotton,” but that she was not forced to participate in the activity. However, she did have to watch other students pick the cotton while she tended to other crops in the garden. She said she did not immediately tell her mother about the project because she feared retaliation from teachers or making negative grades in her class.

The Times noted that “[t]he school didn’t obtain permission from parents in order for their students to participate in the project nor were they informed about the project’s existence.”

The district released a statement explaining that it regrets “that an instructional activity in the garden at Laurel School was construed as culturally insensitive.”

Note, they didn’t apologize for creating a project that was clearly insensitive, they were only sorry that people viewed it that way.

I’ve seen and written about plenty of examples of schools engaging in these types of foolish activities. But this one takes the cake. I cannot imagine, for the life of me, why anyone would fix their mind to teach students about slavery by having them pick cotton. The level of stupidity, in this case, has been dialed up to 11.

What is even more interesting is that this stupid experiment occurred in Los Angeles, one of the bluest cities in the nation. Aren’t these social justice types supposed to be racially sensitive enough to know that making kids pick cotton isn’t the best of ideas? Were they also planning to have them sing Negro spirituals and place them on slave auction blocks to be sold? I mean, it’s been done in North Carolina, so why not?


Perhaps this is one of several examples showing that so-called progressives aren’t quite as enlightened on racial issues as they would like us to believe. Are we surprised?

Apparently, this isn’t the only school that thought having kids pick cotton to teach them about slavery was a good idea:

Warning: video contains coarse language


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