A mother destroyed a high school in Washington after her 14-year-old twin daughters, who are black, had to clean freshly picked cotton during a history lesson.
Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell, 14, said they were the only black students to participate in a cotton-picking program at Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane.
The girls told ABC News that on May 3 their civics teacher pulled out a box of raw cotton and told the class they were going to do a “fun” activity.
The teacher then instructed the students to clean freshly picked cotton as part of a class assignment to see who could do it the fastest.
The sisters, the only black students in the class, said the class made them uncomfortable.
The twins said they felt even more uncomfortable about class when their classmates said they wouldn’t have picked cotton if they had been enslaved.
14-year-old twins Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell say they felt ‘humiliated’ by the cotton picking class
The mother of the twin girls, Brandi Feazell (pictured) expressed her concern about the lesson plan to school administrators
The Spokane Public School district said a third-party investigation into the incident will be conducted
“They didn’t react like us,” Emzayia . said KUOW.com “They were just okay.”
“I didn’t understand why she was even doing this as a teacher,” she added. “why would she bring a box of cotton to class.”
The girls told ABC News that the lesson plan, which has negative connotations for African Americans who were forced to pick cotton as slaves in the South in the 18th century, left them feeling “humiliated.”
The twins told their mother Brandi Feazell about the lesson and she immediately called the school and spoke to the principal assistant Taylor Skidmore.
Feazell told KUOW.com that Skidmore went into “defense mode” when she raised her concerns about the lesson plan.
She said the senior assistant insisted that the social science teacher not do such a lesson plan because she had black relatives of her own and also because she was a “very kind and gentle soul.”
“Instead of keeping his job and defending these children, making sure their health and safety, mental and emotional, was taken care of, and was their first line of defense; he was not picturing any of that. He was more concerned about his faculty,” Feazell told KUOW.com
Feazell also questioned the judgment behind the lesson plan.
“For you to hand out cotton and to my children (and tell them) that they are essentially going to pick the cotton clean and it’s a race of who gets it clean first, that was extremely annoying for me and my children, ‘ she told ABC News. “They don’t need to be taught what it’s like to be a slave or what it’s like to be black.”
Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell, 14, said they were the only black students to participate in a cotton-picking program at Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane
Spokane Public Schools said they would release a third-party investigation into the situation
A third-party investigation into the incident will be conducted, Sandra Jarrard, executive director of communications for the Spokane Public School district, told ABC News.
“The students learned about the industrial revolution and the gin was discussed,” said a statement from the school district. “We take all complaints very seriously and are committed to fully investigating them. There are conflicting reports about this incident. Once the third-party research has been completed, we’ll be happy to come back to share the results.’
Despite the ongoing investigation, the 14-year-old’s mother says she is disappointed with the school board’s response to the incident.
“I really believe the school district hasn’t done its job at this point,” Feazell said. “The school and district administration is not protecting these children as necessary.”
The girls have not gone to school since the incident because their mother said the school board ‘looked like we couldn’t get my daughters into a safe environment at all’.