Community rallies around Michigan teacher suspended for showing blackface video

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Community rallies around Michigan teacher suspended for showing blackface video

[cap­tion id=“attachment_56406” align=“alignright” width=“285”]Michigan flag on left Michi­gan flag on left[/caption]

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.

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.