Michigan middle school teacher Alan Barron planned to retire in two weeks.
Now the Monroe teacher is suspended and at the center of a heated debate after showing his students a video depicting entertainers in blackface as part of a history lesson on racism. Students and others in the community have come to Barron’s defense, saying he embodied tolerance and only showed the video to teach about racism.
But an unidentified assistant principal who was sitting in on the history class found the video offensive, leading to the suspension of the 59-year-old teacher, according to Monroe News.
Parent Adrienne Aaron, whose husband is black, said her daughter had no qualms with the video.
“She was more offended that they stopped the video,” Aaron told the Monroe News of her daughter. “It had nothing to do with racism. History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we’ve come in America. How is that racism?”
Students and other supporters of Barron expressed outrage with Monroe Public Schools.
“MPS should be ashamed of themselves!” Suzanne Case-Rochowiak vented on Facebook. “It’s called history for a reason and our children need to be educated on these issues. Mr. Barron is a fantastic teacher and a genuine person who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.