CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Officials at a North Carolina school say their students will never again visit a living history plantation after a black tour guide picked three Black students to help re-enact slave life.
The Charlotte Observer reports that when Rea View Elementary fifth-graders from Waxhaw traveled to Latta Plantation last week, a veteran presenter at the historic cotton plantation called up three student helpers as he talked about the work slaves did in the fields.
The three were the group's only Black students, said Union County school spokeswoman Luann Ingram.
"We just thought that was terribly inappropriate," she said. "I don't think any ill will was intended at all. It was just a bad decision for him to have made. It was an uncomfortable situation for our children and our staff."
About 60 were listening to Ian Campbell speak about the Civil War and slavery at the centuries-old plantation in Huntersville. As he mentioned the different kinds of work slaves did, he called up the three students. He had one girl hold a burlap bag on her shoulder but did not ask her or the other two to simulate cotton picking, said Latta's executive director, Kristin Toler.
Toler said he meant no harm, and for all future tours, guides will ask for volunteers. She said she didn't know anyone was upset until an angry parent called the next day.
"If the girls that were picked to come up felt uncomfortable, of course we feel terrible," she said.
Toler said Campbell, who continues to lead presentations, is one of the site's most popular guides.
Campbell agreed with Toler's account, and said people have spread lies about what the students were asked to do.
"I'm sick of it," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, I've moved on."