'You are my slave:' School ends Civil War dress-up activity

A Georgia elementary school’s Civil War dress-up day is sparking controversy among students and parents after at least one student allegedly told another: "You are my slave."

Every year, Big Shanty Elementary School in Kennesaw invites their fifth graders to participate in “Civil War Day,” an activity where the children dress in Civil War-era costumes.

But this year, the activity created conflict after a white student dressed as a plantation owner approached a black child and allegedly said, “You are my slave,” FOX5 Atlanta reported.

Corrie Davis, the mother of the 10-year-old boy who was called a slave during the activity last month, brought attention to the incident by posting an emotional video to Facebook. The video garnered nearly 70,000 views.

“What I want them to understand is the pain it caused my son,” Davis said of her child, who did not dress up that day. “This is bringing them back to a time when people were murdered, when people died, when people owned people.”


Following the incident, Davis scheduled a meeting with the school’s principal, during which she requested the district cancel the activity altogether. The school initially refused her request, saying that costumes were optional.

“No student was required to dress in period attire and any student that did so was not instructed, nor required, to dress in any specific attire,” school system spokesman John Stafford said in a brief statement.

However, a flyer about the event was sent to parents, explaining costumes would help create a more accurate portrayal.

“It creates a more realistic simulation when dressing in Civil War clothing,” the note read.

Davis was particularly upset by the flyer’s suggestion to dress in overalls, which she felt alluded to slave attire.


“If they’re requiring that the costume be as accurate as possible...some kid is going to come to school dressed as a plantation owner,” Davis said in her video. “My son is going to be looked upon as a slave at the school.”

Davis says she does not object to the school's teaching of the Civil War, but rather, she objects to its methods.

“I’m simply saying the way in which you are going about teaching this standard is offensive,” she said.

Davis received a letter from a Cobb County assistant superintendent late last week, who wrote the school system planned to end the activity altogether.