Is Purvis Middle School racist? Mississippi school with 80% Whites sparks controversy after ‘slave letter writing’

An assignment was given to the eighth-graders at Purvis Middle School, asking the students to 'pretend like you are a slave working on a Mississippi plantation'


                            Is Purvis Middle School racist? Mississippi school with 80% Whites sparks controversy after ‘slave letter writing’
Purvis Middle School and the assignment given to their 8th graders (purvismiddleschool.com/Twitter)

A “slave letter writing activity” at a mostly-White Purvis, Mississippi middle school ignited rage on Wednesday, March 3, with the Internet calling the exercise alternately humiliating and demoralizing.

A screenshot showing an assignment with the title “Slave Letter Writing Activity” has been shared hundreds of times on Twitter and has garnered reactions ranging from concern to anger. Earlier this week, an assignment was given to the eighth-graders at Purvis Middle School, asking the students to “pretend like you are a slave working on a Mississippi plantation” and “write a letter to your family back in Africa… describing your life.”

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The assignment presented in the screenshot was the last slide in a 12-slide PowerPoint PPT about the “atrocities and negatives of slavery.” The purpose of the assignment “was to show our students just how horrible slavery was and to gain empathy for what it was like to be a slave.”

Frank Bunnell, the principal of Purvis Middle School, emailed parents, confirming that the exercise was a part of an eighth-grade history lesson and apologized for “something like this happening under my watch.” Bunnell also argued that the slide, which was part of the PPT, was taken out of context.



 

 

“A person could read just the assignment and draw a very unrealistic view of the true tragedies that occurred. That was not intended,” he wrote. “However, intent does not excuse anything. There is no excuse to downplay a practice that (even after abolished) spurs unjust laws, unfair economic practices, inhumane treatment, and suppression of a people.” The exercise also suggested the topics students might cover in their letter. “You may discuss the journey to America, as well as the day-to-day tasks you perform.”

During this “journey,” known as the Middle Passage, more than two million of the roughly 12 million Africans were captured and shipped to America and were later found dead. It was also noted that more than 80% of students at Purvis Middle School are white, and approximately 10% of students are Black.

As soon as the picture of the assignment made its way to social media, people started slamming the school and the lessons they are teaching to young kids. One Internet user said, "This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen." While another one said: What kind of Sh*t is this, real educators would never do this, RACIST WHITE FOLKS."  

One angry Internet user wrote: "I used to live just outside of Purvis city limits, and I’m not surprised by this at all. However, this is completely abhorrent and unacceptable in any context but definitely with MS’s history.  And right after the end of Black history month." While another one was surprised and said, "What the fuck what is this the 1960s? This shit unacceptable."



 

 



 

 

Sharing a screenshot of a teacher's comment on the racist assignment, one person wrote, "Coach Tyler Abney of Purvis Ms-Middle School SS teacher of three years thought this assignment was appropriate." While another one demanded: "This is wrong ok, Making Kids write a Slave letter. Cant we get past this racist stuff. Your already taking Dr Suess Books off the shelves saying its Racist. Does BLM just sit around all day and do search Engines and find something good and make it Bad. explain this to me Please!"



 

 



 

 

These remarks were made by the Internet and individual organizations, MEAWW cannot confirm them independently and nor does it support these claims being made on the Internet.

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