. -- A controversial history lesson left parents and teachers upset in Union County
The teachers plan to write letters to leaders at the historic Latta Plantation
about their disapproval of a hands-on history lesson during a Rea View Elementary
class trip Wednesday.
During a lesson on the Civil War
, tour guide Ian Campbell
, who is himself black, made black students pretend to be slaves in front of their white classmates.
Campbell said he's been a historian for more than 15 years.
"I am very enthusiastic about getting kids to think about how people did things in 1860, 1861 -- even before that period," he said.
One parent said Campbell took his enthusiasm too far when he picked three black elementary school children out of a group of mostly white students to play the role of cotton picking slaves during a his hands-on history lesson. The parent said the students were also made to wear bags used to gather cotton around their necks.
Campbell said, "I was trying to be historically correct not politically correct."
Charlotte-Mecklenburg National Asssociation for the Advancement of Colored People President Kojo Nantambu
He said, "There is a lingering pain, a lingering bitterness, a lingering insecurity and a lingering sense of inhumanity since slavery. Because that's still there, you want to be more sensitive than politically correct or historically correct."
Although Campbell defends his decision, he said in the future he will take a different approach.
"I'm going to start asking for volunteers instead of calling people from the audience. I think that would make it a lot easier that way if someone is afraid of public speaking or getting up in front of peers it wouldn't embarrass them," Campbell said.
"Even if the black children had volunteered, I probably would have tried to use all of the children," Nantambu said. "That would have made all the children feel equal in the experience."
Campbell said he's done lessons like this in the past, but this was his first complaint.
A spokeswoman for the Union County school district said administrators were "surprised by the lack of sensitivity" of the presentation. Parents plan to meet with school administrators Friday morning to address their concerns.