North Carolina school defends slavery game


WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A grandmother, who is African-American, is outraged after her granddaughter’s fourth grade school teacher led the class in a role-playing game that included shackles, plantations, severe punishment and simulated slaves running toward freedom.

Denett, the grandmother, asked that we use only her first name because she fears retaliation toward her family or granddaughter.

Denett’s granddaughter attends Codington Elementary School in Wilmington, North Carolina and the child brought home papers from the slavery board game last week, Denett said.

“Slavery is not a game,” said Denett. “It happened to black people. It happened to my ancestors. They were slaves.”

In the Underground Railroad board game called Escaping Slavery, teachers gave students a Freedom Punch Card, that reads, “If your group runs into trouble four times, you will be severely punished and sent back to the plantation to work as a slave.”

The game papers show cartoon character depictions of slave families and shackles.

“On this one, you can see pictures where they have shackles,” said Denett. “This is a game that the school system is probably purchasing online for the kids to participate in, and in this day and time, this is horrifying. I don’t know how other people feel about it, but I think it’s terrible.”

In a statement issued to WECT, Codington Elementary School Principal Graham Elmore wrote that fourth grade social studies teachers used the “Monopoly-like game” in January, and it was obtained from the educational website Teachers Pay Teachers.

“The purpose was to play a role to increase interest and enthusiasm for historical events. The teachers wanted to share how the people communicated and worked for change and equality in their communities.”

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