Community rallies around Michigan teacher suspended for showing blackface video

Michigan flag on left
Michigan flag on left

By John Ruberry

During a lesson on Jim Crow laws and segregation in his Monroe, Michigan history class,  Allan Barron showed a video of white men performing in blackface. Unfortunately for the 59 year-old instructor, who is retiring at the end of the school year, an assistant principal was sitting in on that lesson. The video was stopped because the administrator, but apparently no one else, was offended.

Blackface, white men and occasionally women wearing makeup and wigs. was a popular form of entertainment from the 1850s until the early 1940s. It was never universally accepted, even though many legendary performers, including Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and of course Al Jolson, performed in blackface. Many of Stephen Foster’s songs, including Camptown Races, Swanee River, and My Old Kentucky Home, were first staged in blackface by E.B. Christie. In a film about Foster’s life, Jolson portrayed Christie.

But no mentally stable person sees blackface as acceptable today, including Barron, who was suspended because he showed that video clip.

From the Monroe News:

According to parents whose children are in the eighth-grade class, the administrator thought the lesson plan was offensive and racist. Mr. Barron was suspended the next day Adrienne Aaron’s husband is African American, and their child was in the class. She said Mr. Barron simply was showing the students what occurred in history. She said her daughter was not offended and felt the subject needs to be discussed.

“She was more offended that they stopped the video,” Mrs. Aaron said. “It had nothing to do with racism. History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we’ve come in America. How is that racism.” District officials met this week with Mr. Barron, who also is the Monroe Township supervisor, but decided not to take action until further investigation is completed. He remains on paid administrative leave. The district, through spokesman Bobb Vergiels, would not acknowledge that Mr. Barron was suspended and only stated that he is “on leave.”

Society has evolved from one being largely racist to one that cannot discuss its history and show examples of bigotry. How horrible. One thing that has not changed is that edu-crats are poltroons who are not public servants.

More from the Monroe News:

A student has been making and distributing T-shirts in support of Mr. Barron, and parents have been campaigning through social media to spread their word.

“Mr. Barron is one of the … great teachers we have in Monroe Public Schools,” one parent wrote in a letter that was distributed through Facebook. “He has changed many children;s lives over the course of his career. If Mr. Barron felt that he was teaching something that was offensive, he would most definitely not have done it.”

Hurrah for the people of Monroe. As long as his suspension stands, Barron is banned from attending any school functions, including a banquet that will honor his fellow retiring teachers.

John Ruberry blogs regularly at Marathon Pundit.