Michigan Teacher Suspended For Showing Video On Segregation And The Use of Black Face

JimCrowThere is a troubling case in Michigan where Alan Barron, a public school teacher at Monroe Middle School, has been suspended for teaching an eighth grade class on racial segregation and discrimination that included a video discussing how white entertainers would once use black face paint. The lesson by Barron, 59, also included discussions of Jim Crow. While the notion of academic freedom is different in elementary and middle schools than on the graduate level, it is still troubling to see such a suspension reportedly based on the simple depiction and discussion of such forms of discrimination. There is no indication that Barron was doing anything more than showing the practices, which are still commonly referenced in books and even contemporary politics. Indeed, we continue to see cases involving black face arise and this lesson gave students background understandings of such controversies. (He has now been reinstated).

Barron is set to retire this year after 36 years in the district. Parents and students objected that the lesson was interesting and accurate. However an Administrator who sat in on Barron’s class said that it was offensive.

Barron also is supervisor of Monroe Township.

My concern is that this teacher was suspended on what appears the reaction of this one supervisor. Teachers on every level need to be able feel some flexibility in teaching such subjects. History is a particularly important subject in the shaping of citizens. They need to know our checkered history on race and such videos visually register with the students. Indeed, the students found the class to be extremely valuable. To curtail such history to avoid potentially unpopular or uncomfortable subjects is a myopic and self-defeating act in my view.

What is missing from these stories is any indication that the supervisor’s actions will be reviewed or at least explained.

29 thoughts on “Michigan Teacher Suspended For Showing Video On Segregation And The Use of Black Face”

  1. Betty Kath,


    Redistribution of wealth, in any form, is unconstitutional. The government has the power to tax for governmental operations, not redistribution. In the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson and the Founders provided Americans the right to private property in all forms. This right includes money, personal property and moveable property which is “admitted before the establishment of government.” Private property cannot be taken from one man to be given to another as it would then be public property.

    The government cannot tax one man to pay for another man’s tuition, direct payments, food, affirmative action, social services, rent control, Medicare or any financially beneficial item.

    The Constitution was written with certain “understandings.” One of which was that a man’s property was his and that taxation was to fund legitimate governmental operations – not to take money from one man to give it to another, by any means or method. Also entirely understood was that charity was noble and the private charity industry was viable and vigorous.

    Jefferson on communism and the right to private property:

    “That, on the principle of a communion of property, small societies may exist in habits of virtue, order, industry, and peace, and consequently in a state of as much happiness as Heaven has been pleased to deal out to imperfect humanity, I can readily conceive, and indeed, have seen its proofs in various small societies which have been constituted on that principle. But I do not feel authorized to conclude from these that an extended society, like that of the United States or of an individual State, could be governed happily on the same principle.” –Thomas Jefferson to Cornelius Camden Blatchly, 1822. ME 15:399

    “A right of property in moveable things is admitted before the establishment of government. A separate property in lands, not till after that establishment. The right to moveables is acknowledged by all the hordes of Indians surrounding us. Yet by no one of them has a separate property in lands been yielded to individuals. He who plants a field keeps possession till he has gathered the produce, after which one has as good a right as another to occupy it. Government must be established and laws provided, before lands can be separately appropriated, and their owner protected in his possession. Till then, the property is in the body of the nation, and they, or their chief as trustee, must grant them to individuals, and determine the conditions of the grant.” –Thomas Jefferson: Batture at New Orleans, 1812. ME 18:45

  2. I applaud you for your support of the Communist Manifesto. Your problems are the Preamble and Constitution. With the limitation of government to security and infrastructure as the Founders established the American context in the Preamble, the inclusion of “General Welfare,” the deliberate exclusion of individual welfare and the right to private property, redistribution of wealth is unconstitutional.

    You can’t take private property from one man to give it to another as it is then public property. The government may tax for governmental operations and redistribution is not a governmental operation. All forms of redistribution including public school/college, welfare direct payments, food stamps, Medicare, social services, affirmative action, rent control, Social Security, etc. are unconstitutional.

    The principle from the Manifesto you cite is, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” You are correct and accurate in citing communist principles. Thank you for clearly differentiating the Communist Manifesto and the Preamble and Constitution. Thank you for demonstrating the vast differences between the two forms of governance. Thank you for clarifying exactly which form of government support.

    You have inadvertently demonstrated that our “blessings of liberty” cannot include the government taking money from one man to give it to another. I am extremely confident that the Founders expected that citizens would be free and self-reliant as Marx and Engels envisioned people being enslaved by and dependent on government in every aspect of life.

    Ultimately, It must be decided by the Supreme Court which document prevails in America. The SCOTUS must decide if the Preamble and Constitution can be voted out. The SCOTUS must decide if America is governed by the Constitution or the Communist Manifesto. At some point the SCOTUS must be held accountable for its decisions.

    So far, you can celebrate your collectivist victories. Your utopian dreams have led, for example, to a Chicago school district that pays striking teachers $150K+ with comprehensive benefits for 9 months of classes while it produces a 50% failure rate and students look forward to careers as fork lift drivers.


  3. The govt. is the one squeezing its citizens. We are overtaxed and overregulated.

  4. John, Everyone pays through taxes because everyone benefits from a literate and well educated populace. Education shouldn’t be just for the well off. Since everyone benefits, everyone should pay proportionately according to their wealth.

    There are many countries that provide “free” education from pre-school through college, including advanced degrees. But those countries aren’t run by corporations looking to squeeze every cent out of its citizens.

  5. so now let me see teachers are free to tell the lie of george washington! and by lie i mean the fact that a 7-9 yr old depending on the company writing the history took a ax and chopped down a cherry tree and NOT ONE ADULT saw him or intervened. the truth is thats a lie the said cherry tree is the mo’or flag which is to this day is buried in the catholic church vaults boy i cant wait to hear the denials of that statement. from the naysayers while ignoring the above facts of a child chopping down a tree all alone…..

    2nd rosa parks a black woman who sat in the front of a bus refusing to move after being told more then once by a white bus driver along with white passengers to go to the back of the bus not only didnt move but survived during a time and period when blacks were lynched for looking at white people much less ignoring their commands.. heck she was arrested and made it to and back out of jail without so much as a scratch.. yep history sure has told us the truth didnt they!!!!!!!??????

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