Principal apologizes for Black History Month celebration that included O.J. Simpson, Rodman, RuPaul

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In a letter addressed to parents and community members, a South Los Angeles elementary school principal apologized Thursday for “questionable decisions” about which prominent African Americans to highlight in a parade marking the culmination of Black History Month.

Lorraine Abner’s letter did not name the individuals. But her apology came after three teachers at Wadsworth Avenue Elementary School were suspended while the Los Angeles Unified School District investigates allegations that they had their first-, second- and fourth-grade students carry pictures of O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul at last Friday’s event.

“Unfortunately, questionable decisions were made in the selection of noteworthy African American role models,” the letter said. “As the principal, I offer my apology for these errors in judgment.”

Abner could not be reached for comment Thursday.

LAUSD spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry said Simpson appeared on a school-approved list of Black History Month figures, which dates back to 1985. But she said the names of Rodman and RuPaul, among others, were added in pencil when teachers were selecting which prominent African Americans their classes would honor in the parade.

Pollard-Terry said the principal did not see the amended list, which LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines called a lack of oversight. Some civil rights activists and groups, including the Los Angeles branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, protested Wednesday that those choices made a mockery of black history and reinforced racial stereotypes at a school that is predominantly Latino. They want the teachers, who are white, to be fired and the principal, who was not on campus last Friday, to be reprimanded....

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Craig Michael Loftin - 3/10/2010

While I completely agree regarding OJ and Rodman, I think lumping in Rupaul is rather homophobic and disrespectful of transgender people. I think Rupaul deserves respect and praise for her success and the positive role model she provides for glbt people regardless of race. Just my opinion.