ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Rock Hill branch of the NAACP says Rock Hill Schools superintendent Dr. Bill Cook will make a formal public apology and implement sensitivity training district-wide after a video surfaced of kids picking cotton and singing on a recent school field trip.
The video of Ebenezer Avenue Elementary students singing lyrics like "break your back, fill your sack, make money for me," while picking cotton triggered swift public backlash.
Rock Hill Schools immediately took to the defensive to offer context to the video, saying it was taken on their annual field trip to the historic Carroll School, which teaches students what it would be like to live during the Great Depression.
For the past 15 years, the Carroll School has implemented an immersive experience including picking cotton and singing songs, which the district insisted are not quote “slave songs”.
On Wednesday, the Rock Hill NAACP announced that the school district agreed to make several changes in wake of the intense public criticism.
“In light of the concerns that Rock Hill School District has made, some changes to the curriculum that have gone into effect," NAACP president Dorene Boular said.
On Wednesday, the Rock Hill NAACP announced the school district agreed to make several changes in wake of the intense public criticism.
“Students will no longer be asked to participate in ethnic activities that are offensive such as picking cotton during the field trip experience," Boular said. "The song will no longer be performed, and the permission forms will include more details reporting in regarding activities. The district has already held sensitivity training for administrative staff and has included also in the 2019 2020 school agenda.”
Boular said the Rock Hill NAACP is now satisfied with the school district’s efforts to make things right.
“We’re pleased with the outcome, the recommendations we made have been received and addressed," she said. "The Rock Hill branch NAACP will continue to review the curriculum in the field activity and meet with the school district to resolve any future concerns.”
Boular also said Superintendent Dr. Bill Cook will offer a formal public apology and host a community gathering on Thursday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kenneth Monroe Transformation Center.