Virginia students instructed to play 'runaway slave game' in P.E. class

    Madison’s Trust Elementary School students were instructed earlier this month to pretend to be runaway slaves during a physical education class activity during Black History Month. Friday, Feb. 21, 2019. (ABC7 photo) <p>{/p}

    In the midst of a recent series of racist incidents in Virginia, an elementary school in Ashburn is under fire after students were forced to play a slave game during physical education class.

    Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Madison’s Trust Elementary were instructed earlier this month to pretend to be runaway slaves, advancing through an obstacle course that represented the underground railroad.

    The local NAACP chapter has received several complaints from parents. ABC7 News learned there were at least two black children in the class.

    The principal has apologized saying this was not part of the school’s curriculum, calling it an "insensitive physical education" activity during black history month.

    “We tell our children to be responsible for their mistakes, will be home ourselves to the same standard. We made a mistake.... slavery is never a game," says Wayne Byard from Loudoun County Public Schools.

    This incident comes at a time when the racial climate in the state is very tense after the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s black face scandal.

    NAACP chapter President Michelle Thomas calls this “sickening and racist,” and says the incident highlights the need for race and bias training.

    “That is literally the top of the iceberg.. we have a long standing list of incidents of racial discrimination.... going in now for an emergency meeting with the superintendent," says Thomas.

    The school spokesperson says they are reviewing plans to try to be more racially sensitive in the future, but still no word of any disciplinary actions here at the school.

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