FAUCETT, Mo. — Some senior students at a northwest Missouri high school who made a video depicting the lives of slaves using jokes and slapstick antics will not be disciplined because they had no racist intentions, the superintendent of their school district said.
The students in a Missouri history class at Mid-Buchanan High School in the community of Faucett were asked to make a video explaining the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required that all escaped slaves be returned to their owners if they were captured. The video included snippets from the “Mission Impossible” television theme, a tune about picking cotton with exaggerated Southern language, giggling and Three Stooges antics, The St. Joseph News-Press reported (http://bit.ly/2de2YxE ) this week.
The video, which was created by white students, also showed one student whipping a runaway “slave.” It was released in mid-September and posted to YouTube, where a parent saw it and complained to the newspaper. The video was taken off YouTube when the paper notified the school, which did not receive any other complaints about the project.
“I don’t think there was any racist or discriminatory intent in the video,” Superintendent John James told The Associated Press Thursday. “They were having fun with the video, hamming it up and not paying enough attention to how others would interpret it.”
School officials will use the incident to help the students become more sensitive to how what they say and do can be interpreted by different audiences, James said.
Mid-Buchanan has approximately 12 African-American students in seventh through 12th grades, according to the newspaper.
The teacher, Colby Gibson, has been assigning the videos for years. Gibson, who was not available for an interview with AP, told the News-Press that he apologized if anyone found it offensive and said he is sure his students would apologize too.
“I just wanted them to do it in a fun and educational way, and maybe it wasn’t in the best taste,” Gibson said.
James said Gibson will be encouraged to ensure that video assignments in the future are more educational and serious.
Information from: St. Joseph News-Press/St. Joe, Missouri, http://www.newspressnow.com