School faces criticism for allowing students to sing song about picking cotton

School faces criticism for allowing students to sing song about picking cotton
An Ohio Middle School is under fire after students sang a song about picking cotton in a school program. A school district official said the song was picked out of a book of American folk songs and that the students had been rehearsing the song since August. (Getty Images)

A shocked parent walked out of a school choir concert in a Lucas County, Ohio, school on Thursday after students sang an American folk song about picking cotton. Critics of the school’s decision to sing the song would later air their grievances on social media.

What are the details?

  • Springfield Middle School in northwest Ohio featured the song “Cotton Needs Pickin’” as part of their eighth-grade fall choral presentation.
  • Parent Nicole Maulsby shared a video of the performance on Facebook, according to The Toledo Blade. Maulsby, who is Cuban, told the newspaper that her husband, Alonzo, who is black, left the auditorium during the song.
  • Maulsby added that an African-American woman in the audience mouthed “Oh my God” to her when the students began the song.
  • Maulsby and others who commented on her Facebook post said that the song was a racist hat-tip to slaves working in the south.

Is there anything else?

  • Most speaking out against the issue claim that the song choice was made in poor taste after a recent school controversy involving Confederate flags and racial epithets.
  • The early October incident reportedly involved several Springfield students affiliated with Christian youth organization Young Life. The students in question reportedly shared videos and pictures on Snapchat while holding a Confederate flag outside of Springfield High School prior to a group event.
  • After the images and videos went viral on social media, reports said that at lease one person shared a photo with a racial slur while referring to the event.
  • Maulsby told the Blade that the performance of the song was “a little bit too close to the time of the N-word being used directly across the street in the parking lot.”
  • Local radio host Charlie Mack, on Facebook, added, “Come on Springfield. This is the song you sing just a week after the Confederate flag issue?”

What was the school’s response?

  • Springfield School District Superintendent Matt Geha told the Blade that the song was picked out of a book of American folk songs and that the students had been rehearsing the song since August.
  • Geha noted that as of Friday, he hadn’t personally received any communications from concerned parents.
  • “I know that timing can sound bad, but it’s a historical component for what the choir department had to use for their curriculum,” Geha said.

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