Charter elementary school apologizes for blackface depiction during student program

Children at The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward perform with masks during a black history performance this week. (Photo: Special to the AJC)

An Atlanta charter school apologized for a black history program that featured second-graders holding masks that depict traditional blackface and said it will provide cultural competency training for teachers.

The performance, which featured children reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" while holding paper masks in front of their faces, took place during a program Thursday hosted by The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward. Parents posted video and pictures that have been shared thousands of times on social media and expressed concern about the appropriateness of the mask and its historical context.

Kindezi first posted a message on its Facebook page Friday morning saying it was reviewing the incident. It soon updated its statement: "This was a poor and inappropriate decision and we sincerely apologize and accept responsibility for the hurt, anger, frustration, and disappointment that this has caused in the Kindezi community and the community at large."

Statement from Kindezi Old Fourth Ward Performance of "We Wear the Mask:" Kindezi Old Fourth Ward sincerely apologizes...

Posted by The Kindezi Schools on Friday, March 30, 2018

The school said it is "deeply committed" to making sure "this never happens again." It said it will provide teacher education on "cultural competency" to ensure "staff has a thorough understanding of our shared history regarding race and racism in America, and how to engage in productive conversations with our students and the community." It will also speak with students about the "historical context" of the imagery and the poem and has scheduled a parent forum for this afternoon.

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