Students of Teacher Behind 150+ Book Ban Requests Detail History of Racism, HomophobiaBreaking News
tags: racism, Florida, critical race theory, Book Bans
Vicki Baggett, an English teacher at Northview High School in Florida, is pushing for the Escambia County School District to remove nearly 150 books from school libraries. In an interview last month, Baggett told Popular Information that she is challenging books like When Wilma Rudolph Played Basketball — the story of a sprinter who overcame racial discrimination to become an Olympic champion — because she's concerned the book could make white students "feel uncomfortable." Baggett said she has "a responsibility to protect minors" from this kind of content.
While Baggett claims she is keeping inappropriate content away from children, her former and current students tell Popular Information that Baggett openly promoted racist and homophobic beliefs in class.
Peggy Sunday, who graduated from Northview in 2021, told Popular Information that, during a 10th-grade English class, Baggett said she opposed interracial marriage. "[Baggett] said in the Bible somewhere it says that it is a sin for races to mix together and that whites are meant to be with whites and blacks are meant to be with blacks," Sunday alleged. About 15 students, from a variety of racial backgrounds, were enrolled in the class.
Another student in the same class, Stone Pressley, recalled the same incident. Pressley said that Baggett said she was opposed to "race mixing" because "she wanted to preserve cultures" and "didn't want everyone to turn the same color eventually." Pressley said that although Baggett had a reputation for controversial remarks, he found Baggett's comments on interracial relationships "shocking." After the incident, Pressley recalled asking his science teacher if it was possible, as Baggett claimed, for everyone to be "the same color one day."
Another student in the class, Hamza Jacobs, confirmed Baggett's comments opposing "race mixing." A fourth student in the class, who asked to remain anonymous due to the nature of the allegations and Baggett's standing in a small community, also confirmed the episode.
Sunday said that Baggett is known throughout Northview as an "openly racist teacher." Sunday worked at a local pool and, one day, Baggett asked her about "the black-to-white" ratio. According to Sunday, Baggett then asked two Black students if they "knew how to swim" because "most black people don't know how to swim." The incident was confirmed by one of the Black students targeted by Baggett, who asked to remain anonymous. That student said Baggett "asked me and another girl of color in my class 'could we swim because black people usually can’t.'" Jacobs and Pressley also confirmed the incident.
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