Sometimes good intentions which are not thought out properly can go bad.
Such is the case of a situation that arose at Pickens Middle School where the administration thought they were doing something good on how to address a situation of racial tensions but ultimately did not think about the consequences of segregating students.
Shouldn't our School District of Pickens County's lawyer have been consulted about their plan?
Under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance are prohibited.
President John F. Kennedy said in 1963:
The Principal of Pickens Middle School as well as the School Board and District Administration is now having to deal with backlash over his plan.
This whole controversial situation went viral on a Facebook page which ended up having over 1K comments. You can view those comments at this link:
Below is an email which was sent by a concerned citizen to SC Attorney General Alan Wilson which explains why there is such controversy over what was planned. But please note NOT ALL PARENTS received prior notification of the special lunch arrangements or the fact a speaker was going to address the racial tensions. Many white students weren't aware of the special lunch date with the speaker until the students of color bragged about receiving the special invitation.
Dear Attorney General:
It has been brought to my attention that during the week of April 11th 2022 the Pickens Middle School in Pickens, South Carolina planned and conducted a series of presentations by a guest speaker in which the school segregated students by skin color. The students were given special lunch sessions and divided into the following groups: "African-American," "Hispanic," and "Two or More Backgrounds." Students who did not fall into these categories, such as white, Asian, and others, were not invited and were excluded from these special presentations and lunch meals. This appears to be a direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VI, which prohibits excluding individuals from programs or activities on the grounds of race, color, or national origin by entities receiving Federal financial assistance.
According to letters and emails from the school Principal, Mr. James King, the segregation of students by race was intentional to allow the guest speaker, Ms. Adrienne Young, "a chance to talk with students about how to cope with being a student in a predominantly white school." Setting aside how this is highly inappropriate and just plain racist, a glaring irony must have eluded the school’s leadership and the guest speaker in that the subject of her talk was "unity at schools."
Please see the attached email and letter received by the school’s parents indicating specific lunch times their students were assigned:
Mr. Wilson, would you please review and investigate this incident, as well as similar presentations given by Ms. Young at other school campuses as alluded to by Mr. King in his letter, and pursue all appropriate legal action as it merits under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and specifically regulation 34 C.F.R. §§ I00.3(a), I00.3(b)(l), and nondiscriminatory statutes of the SC Human Affairs Law? For reference, I am attaching a determination issued by the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights in a similar case where a school segregated students and staff by race into “affinity groups” during race trainings and programs. The parents and students of Pickens Middle School are -- quite justifiably – very upset with this and would have legal standing in court.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Name removed due to privacy concerns
For your information, the video of Adrienne Young's speech she prepared has since been removed and no longer available for parents or taxpayers to view.