Teachers at a school in Queens, New York are coming under fire after parents found out their children weren’t allowed to write about Malcolm X for Black History Month. Teachers at Public School 201 told fourth-graders last week that the controversial activist was “violent” and “bad.”
According to the school’s website, about 43% of the 477 students at PS 201 are black and it earned a “C” on its last city report card. Several parents spoke to the New York Daily News about the issue.
Cleatress Brown, 47, of Flushing complained to Principal Rebecca Lozada on Friday after a teacher forbade her fourth-grade son from writing a report on Malcolm X.
“I’m outraged,” said Brown. “As a teacher, you’re imposing your opinion on a bunch of kids.”
She had her son write about him anyway — and then turn the paper in to her. “That’s called learning,” she said.
Another parent, Angel Minor, said she was “very upset” after her son came home complaining he couldn’t do a report on Malcolm X for his technology class.
“It was disrespectful to our history,” said Minor, 33, whose son is not in Brown’s class.
Children were asked to pick from several prominent black leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X for the project, Minor said.
“I felt like when he grew up, he wanted to stop segregation so everyone could be equal,” said her son Tyrese Minor, 9.
But his teacher quickly took Malcolm X off the list. The black leader defended the use of violence as a form of self-defense before his assassination in 1965.
City Department of Education officials said they were looking into the matter and would not defend it.
“Malcolm X is a historical figure and a hero to many New Yorkers that we believe should be celebrated in our schools,” said agency spokesman Devon Puglia.