MICHIGAN — A high school newspaper adviser was reprimanded aftera student’s column criticizing the observance of Black History Month sparkeddebate among local students and parents.
The trouble started in March after an article critical of Black HistoryMonth was published in the February edition of Plymouth Salem High School’sP-CEP Perspective. The article, written by senior Chris MacKinder,questioned the need to celebrate Black History Month, claiming that bycelebrating the month “race once again becomes a popular topic of discussion.”He added that celebrating Black History Month was unfair because othergroups and races were not celebrated.
MacKinder’s column caused an uproar, mainly in the African-Americancommunity, which requested a meeting with school administrators and demandedthat MacKinder be expelled and newspaper adviser Mary Lou Nagy be fired.
Instead, administrators reprimanded Nagy by relieving her of her threeclasses and placing her in an administrative position for eight days. Inaddition, Nagy had to attend a diversity training workshop.
“The writer didn’t do anything wrong,” Nagy said. “I didn’t do anythingwrong in letting the article be published, but there was such an outcryfrom the community that I think [administrators] just buckled to the pressure.”
In spite of the reprimand, Nagy was allowed to continue working withthe newspaper staff to put out a special issue focusing solely on diversity.
Nagy said that prior to the article being published, MacKinder discussedthe column with her, at which time she told him to do more research onthe topic.
“I’m an adviser, not a censor,” Nagy said. “I don’t want to be too carefulbecause I don’t want to start self-censoring and not letting things getout there that need to be out there.”
Following the incident, Nagy and MacKinder each issued an apology tothe community.
“[Chris] apologized for causing any pain or for anybody misunderstanding,and I apologized because my intentions were never to create an atmosphereof confusion or fear,” Nagy said. “But he never apologized for writingit, and I never apologized for printing it.”
Judy Evola, the Plymouth-Canton School District’s community relationshipofficer, did not return calls made to her office by the Report.
As a result of the incident, teachers in the Plymouth-Canton SchoolDistrict will be required to attend diversity-training workshops next yearon Martin Luther King Jr. Day.