Parents in Cleveland County said a teacher at Washington Elementary in Shelby forced students to listen to an offensive song last week.
The song "O’Susanna" is well known by most people and no one probably would have paid attention if the teacher played a modern version. But, she played the original version, which is about slavery.
“It was very offensive and uncomfortable,” student Harmony Washington told WSOC.
The 9th grader said she was in the class at Washington Elementary School when the song was played last week.
“I thought it was just coming toward people my color in the room,” she said.
The lyrics in the song mention a racial slur and killing black people.
Washington and others told their parents and their pastor at Washington Missionary Baptist Church right next door. Pastor Melvin Clark said he was stunned by the lyrics.
Clark said the teacher played the song for multiple classes that day. She warned the students about the language before playing the song but Clark said that is no excuse.
“Why would you even consider this knowing that these words was in this song?” he asked.
Clark heard that the teacher was suspended, but he said that’s not enough. He has a meeting with the superintendent this week and will demand the teacher's termination.
“There should be nobody wanting a teacher with that mentality teaching in the classroom,” he said.
School board Vice Chairman Richard Hooker said administrators have already taken strong action. He opposes termination but said the teacher may be moved out of this school. He wants sensitivity training for all educators.
“It will be a learning opportunity for us to continue to move beyond,” he said.
Clark said moving the teacher won’t solve the problem, and he and others will keep pushing until she is no longer teaching.
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