Controversy Erupts Over Second Grader’s Martin Luther King Costume
How would you feel if a Caucasian person dressed as an African-American figure with a painted on black face for a presentation? Sean King, a second grade student at Meridian Ranch Elementary school in Colorado Springs, Co., landed himself and his parents in the principal’s office this week for painting his face black for a class presentation.
His class was having “wax museum” day and each student was assigned a historical figure to present. Sean was assigned Martin Luther King Jr., so he dressed in a suit, put on a black mustache and painted his whole face black to portray him as he presented King’s famous speech.
Teachers complained to the principal by saying that them as well as other students thought King’s appearance was offensive to black people.
King explained, “They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to black people and I say it’s not. I like black people. It’s just a costume and I don’t want to insult anybody.”
When the principal demanded King wash the paint off of his face, Sean and his family refused and he was pulled out of school for the day. King’s parents said they are very proud that Sean stood his ground.
The Colorado chapter of the NAACP issued this statement:
When I saw the story about the young scholar who decided he would portray Martin Luther King for a class project, I was so proud of him," NAACP president Rosemary Harris Lytle told KRDO. "Unfortunately, by having blackface as part of his presentation, it ended up harkening back to a really tragic time in the life of this country, a time when blackface was used by entertainers primarily to demean African-Americans, and in a way I know this young man couldn't have intended to do."
Many people thought that the school went too far, so many emotions were expressed about the issue on Meridian Ranch Elementary school’s Facebook page.